Thursday, 19 October 2017

Review ~ Earthly Remains by Donna Leon


Earthly Remains - Brunetti (Paperback)
William Heinemann
 April 2017

In 'Earthly Remains', the twenty-sixth novel in this series, Brunetti’s endurance is tested more than ever before. During an interrogation of an entitled, arrogant man suspected of giving drugs to a young girl who then died, Brunetti acts rashly, doing something he will quickly come to regret. In the fallout, he realizes that he needs a break, needs to get away from the stifling problems of his work.

When Brunetti is granted leave from the Questura, his wife, Paola, suggests he stay at the villa of a relative on Sant’Erasmo, one of the largest islands in the laguna. There he intends to pass his days rowing, and his nights reading Pliny’s Natural History. The recuperative stay goes according to plan until Davide Casati, the caretaker of the house on Sant’Erasmo, goes missing following a sudden storm. Now, Brunetti feels compelled to investigate, to set aside his leave of absence and understand what happened to the man who had become his friend.


My thoughts...

Even if you haven't read any of the excellent books in the Commissario Brunetti series of crime novels, and this is now number 26, you will be able to pick up and understand the story from the start as each of the novels work well as stand alone stories. Of course, if you have followed Brunetti's progression from the start, you will pick up the subtle references to what has sometimes gone before, however, I do think that new readers, coming straight into book 26, might be a little perplexed by some of the more subtle references.

In Earthly Remains, Brunetti is granted leave to recuperate following an incident in which he acted rather out of character. Staying on the island of Sant' Erasmo, he  tries to relax and enjoy the tranquility of his surroundings. When he is befriended by the caretaker of the house in which he staying, Brunetti becomes embroiled in a series of events which will have devastating consequences.

The story flows well and the authors attention to even the smallest, detail cannot be faulted. The mystery at the heart of the novel is revealed quite slowly and there were times when I felt like nothing much was happening but I think this is quite deliberate. as at times the place with its beautiful scenery almost takes over from what is happening with the people. That the author knows and understands this area is obvious in the way that she lovingly recreates Brunetti's world.

I am sure that fans of this author will find much to enjoy in this latest book and like all fans will look forward to see what is coming along in book number 27 😊



About the Author

Donna Leon was named by The Times as one of the 50 Greatest Crime Writers, She is an award winning crime novelist, celebrated for her bestselling Brunetti series. Earthly Remains in the #26 book in the Commissario Guido Brunetti series , set in Venice.



My thanks to the publishers for my review copy of Earthly Remains. 



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Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Blog Tour ~ Christmas at Conwenna Cove by Darcie Boleyn



Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be part of the Christmas at Conwenna Cove Blog Tour






I'm delighted to be able to share this tantalising extract from  Christmas at Conwenna Cove


Canelo
E-book only
9 October 2017


When Grace​ ​Phillips​ travels to Conwenna Cove to help her parents move there 30 years after their honeymoon in the village, she sees why they fell in love with the place. The festive decorations, carols in the air and constant supply of delicious mince pies certainly make it hard to leave. As Grace meets local vet​ ​Oli​ ​Davenport​ she initially finds him rude, but learning more about his passion for animals and how much he cares for his two kids helps Grace to see a softer side to Oli.

It’s been three years since Oli lost his wife to cancer. Though he loves eleven-year-old Amy and five-year-old Tom​ more than anything it’s hard to be mum and dad, as well as hold down a busy job. He has no interest in romance until he crosses paths with beautiful and kind-hearted Grace. The sparks fly but both Oli and Grace are holding onto fear about letting someone into their heart.


          
Extract from Chapter 1...

Grace loved how her parents still made time for each other, even after thirty-four years of marriage. They cooked together, exercised together and even did the crossword together. She knew that they had a special bond, and sometimes wondered whether it was so strong because of what they’d been through. Would they have stayed so close if things hadn’t happened the way they had? She just couldn’t imagine them being any other way, and the idea of one having to cope without the other was too awful to contemplate.

Conwenna Cove was a new start for them and they deserved to be happy. Her mother had always told her that life had its ups and downs, but it was important to grab happiness whenever one had the chance. Grace tried to follow that advice, although sometimes her head overruled her heart. Which was one reason why she was probably still single, having turned down a marriage proposal just last year – much to her parents’ dismay. They’d told her that they just wanted to see her happy and she’d insisted that she was; as happy as she expected to be anyway. She didn’t need a man, especially one like Marcus, to make her feel fulfilled. 

She’d known Marcus since school but not had much to do with him at all, then she’d bumped into him in a café the summer before last and he’d been all over her. She’d thought it strange at the time but also been flattered by his attention, although when she thought about it now, his interest had increased when he’d stopped talking about himself and his woes for five minutes to ask what she did. When she admitted that she was a successful author, he’d wanted to know more and insisted they trade numbers. He’d taken her out about six times after that, and come to her flat for dinner and coffee, but for Grace there had been no spark. That was why, when he’d proposed, she’d been completely shocked. She’d let him down as gently as she could, but he’d been quite rude and left her reeling with a barrage of insults and a few unpleasant text messages. Then two weeks later, as she’d been queuing in Costa, he walked past with another woman, his arm wrapped possessively around her shoulders, and Grace had known that she’d had a very lucky escape.

Before Marcus, she’d had lovers: men she’d met through acquaintances and a few through dating apps, but none of the love affairs had developed into anything more serious. Grace had always found a reason not to commit, and sometimes the men had too, thereby, saving her the trouble of ending their flings.

She poured boiling water onto tea bags, then went to get the milk from the rickety old fridge that stood in the corner of the kitchen. Her parents’ own fridge was currently in the hallway, left to settle after the long journey in the removal van. As Grace bent over to open the fridge, something shot out from underneath, causing her to yelp.

‘Grace?’ Her father rushed to her side. ‘What’s wrong?’

‘Something just ran across the floor.’ She pointed in the direction of the hallway that led off the kitchen.

‘What was it?’

‘I don’t know. A mouse, maybe? Not big enough to be a rat. At least, I don’t think so anyway.’

Simon shook his head. ‘Think we might need to consider getting a cat. What with the woods and all those fields behind, I bet there’ll be plenty more where that came from.’

‘Dad, you don’t want your house littered with dead rodents.’

‘I didn’t mean I want a cat to kill them, Grace. Just as a deterrent.’

Grace smiled. Her father had such a big heart that he wouldn’t even kill a fly, just usher it rather politely out of the house. 

‘Although I have to admit that your mother and I still hope to have a dog now that she’s retired. We were just holding off until we’d moved, but I can’t see what’s stopping us now.’

‘Well, if you do get one, go to a rescue centre. There are so many dogs needing homes.’

‘Of course. Adopt don’t shop, right?’

‘I’ll just see if that mouse, or whatever it was, is lurking in the hallway.’

They both peered into the cool darkness of the hallway, but with the large boxes, the fridge and a pile of books that belonged to Grace’s parents in the way, it was highly likely that the small rodent had already found itself a new hideaway.

‘I guess we’ll have to look for it later.’ Simon shivered. ‘Hope the poor thing isn’t too scared.’





Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.



My thanks to Darcie and also to Ellie at Canelo for their kind invitation to be part of this blog tour and also for the permission to share this extract from Christmas at Conwenna Cove.



Follow on Twitter @DarcieBoleyn @Canelo_co


#ChristmasAtConwennaCove





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Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Review ~ The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths

29910780
Quercus
July 2017



Blurb...

Boiled human bones have been found in Norwich's web of underground tunnels. When Dr Ruth Galloway discovers they are recent - the boiling not the medieval curiosity she thought - DCI Nelson has a murder enquiry on his hands.

Meanwhile, DS Judy Johnson is investigating the disappearance of a local rough sleeper. The only trace of her is the rumour that she's gone 'underground'. This might be a figure of speech, but with the discovery of the bones and the rumours both Ruth and the police have heard of a vast network of old chalk-mining tunnels under King's Lynn, home to a vast community of rough sleepers, the clues point in only one direction. Local academic Martin Kellerman knows all about the tunnels and their history - but can his assertions of cannibalism and ritual killing possibly be true?

As the weather gets hotter, tensions rise. A local woman goes missing and the police are under attack. Ruth and Nelson must unravel the dark secrets of The Underground and discover just what gruesome secrets lurk at its heart - before it claims another victim.


My thoughts...

There is always a sense of real excitement when I open a new Ruth Galloway book and having followed the series from the very beginning , I have never been disappointed by the way each new mystery unfolds.

In The Chalk Pit, Ruth is confronted by another dark and perplexing mystery which involves the discovery of a set of human bones which have been found in one of Norwich's underground tunnels. When homeless people start to be targeted by a ruthless killer both the police investigation and Ruth's interest in the underground tunnels start to coalesce.

As always the plot is controlled meticulously by an author who really brings her characters to life. Those readers who have followed the series from the start will be aware of the subtle nuance of the relationship between Ruth and DCI Nelson and I am pleased to say that this continues to develop, lending more of a 'will they', won't they' element back into their complicated relationship. I enjoy seeing the other detectives get a chance to shine and am always pleased when DS Johnson makes an appearance, she lends a different sort of dynamic to the detective grouping which is always very welcome. The mystery at the heart of the novel is dark and complicated and the many twists and turns in the plot kept me guessing right to the end.

As one book finishes I immediately look forward to the next one and hope that it won't be too long in coming. As always, I would recommend that new readers start at the beginning of this excellent series, that way the faults and foibles of the characters who make up the major players can be fully appreciated.



More about the author can be found on her website by clicking here 

Follow on Twitter @ellygriffiths



My thanks to the publishers and Bookbridgr for my review copy of The Chalk Pit



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Monday, 16 October 2017

Review ~ Hades by Candice Fox



34932319
Arrow Books
21 September 2017


Blurb...

Homicide detective Frank Bennett feels like the luckiest man on the force when he meets his new partner, the dark and beautiful Eden Archer. But there’s something strange about Eden and her brother, Eric. Something he can’t quite put his finger on.

At first, as they race to catch a very different kind of serial killer, his partner’s sharp instincts come in handy. But soon Frank’s wondering if she’s as dangerous as the man they hunt.


My thoughts...

This is the first book in a detective crime series which focuses on the newly developed partnership between homicide detective Frank Bennett and Eden Archer. Set in Australia, Hades is the dark and twisted story of a criminal underworld, a deeply troubled world which is inhabited by evil. And as evil stalks, so the net grows ever tighter,but the game of hunter and prey is filled with complex and complicated motives.

That the story is not not the faint hearted must be stated but if you are not put off by gritty realism then this book will work for you. The writing is good and the plot is clever but it is in the characterisation where the story really comes alive. Eden Archer, and her brother Eric are quite something, their unique and very different upbringing has made them into people who have more secrets about them than they do answers, and when combined with Eden's partnership with Frank Bennett, the whole trio start to come alive in the imagination.

As with all new series there is that element of getting to know the people and the places and I think that the author has done a great job of bringing everything together. I am sure that the series will go from strength to strength as the stories and the relationship between the key characters continues.



About the Author



Candice Fox is an award-winning author and commercial success in her native Australia. Her first novel, Hades, won the 2014 Ned Kelly Award for best debut crime novel, with the sequel, Eden, winning the 2015 Ned Kelly Award for best crime novel. Candice is also the author of the critically acclaimed Fall, and co-writer of the James Patterson blockbuster Never Never.

Twitter @candicefoxbooks

@arrowpublishing @DeadGoodBooks






My thanks to Clare at Penguin Random House for my review copy of Hades.


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Sunday, 15 October 2017

Sunday WW1 Remembered..



Ellis Humphrey Evans

13 January 1887 - 31 July 1917

Trawsfynydd, Meirionnydd

North Wales


In 1917, the Welsh poet Ellis Humphrey Evans, 'Hedd Wyn' died at the third Battle of Ypres.  He was one of 25,000 British casualties on the first day of the battle to take Pilckem Ridge.

The thirty year old  shepherd poet had enlisted into the Royal Welch Fusilers at Blaenau Ffestiniog and was initially sent to Liverpool for basic training. He was there at the same time as another WW1 poet, Siegfried Sassoon. In July, Hedd Wynn joined his battalion at Nord-Pas-de-Calais and on the 31st July he went 'over the top'. He was fatally wounded by shell fire and died later that same day.

This is one of his poems.


War

Why must I live in this grim age,
When, to a far horizon, God
Has ebbed away, and man, with rage,
Now wields the sceptre and the rod?

Man raised his sword, once God had gone,
To slay his brother, and the roar
Of battlefields now casts upon
Our homes the shadow of the war.

The harps to which we sang are hung,
On willow boughs, and their refrain
Drowned by the anguish of the young
Whose blood is mingled with the rain


Ellis Humphrey Evans is buried at the Artillery Wood Cemetery, near Boezingeat, Belgium. 


He was posthumously awarded the bard's chair at the 1917 National Eisteddfod.



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Saturday, 14 October 2017

Hist Fic Saturday ~ Blood's Game by Angus Donald



On Hist Fic Saturday


Let's go back to .....Restoration England and London 1670


Zaffre
September 2017

I think most of us have heard the story, and marveled at the audacity of Captain Thomas Blood, the man, who in 1671, stole the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London. And whilst I knew the vague details of the story, I wasn't aware that Thomas Blood had in fact been captured, imprisoned and then by some sheer twist of fate, had not only been freed without trial, but had been granted a generous gift of lands by the gracious permission of King Charles II. This novel explains , perhaps, just how this all came about...

Blood's Game is a real romp into Restoration England. All of its glorious bawdiness comes alive with descriptions of the King's court, his amorous exploits, and the schemes and machinations of unscrupulous individuals. Into this scheming hotchpotch comes Holcroft Blood, Thomas Blood's youngest son, who has real flair for doing things in a quite unusual way. Holcroft becomes enmeshed in the plots and schemes of the notorious, Duke of Buckingham, and learns of information which will ultimately make or break those dearest to him.

The author writes with skill and understanding, and brings to life his characters, both real and imaginary with such  a fine eye for detail, that I felt like I was a fly on the wall and observing events first hand. Even the notorious criminal, Thomas Blood comes across as a rather likeable rogue and I couldn't help but be drawn into his story, which is regaled with great gusto. Holcroft Blood is rather the hero of the story and I thought that his character, and his rather special personality, was handled with sensitivity, and yet totally in keeping with the time in which he lived.

Blood's Game is the start of  a new series for this talented writer, who in his previous novels gave us the excellent series about Robin Hood. Moving forward by several hundred years now gives the author scope to take his historical fiction into a new direction. I can't wait to see where the next book takes us.




You can read a guest post by the author explaining the background to Blood's Game by clicking here.


Follow on Twitter @angus_donald #BloodsGame


Visit on Facebook







Huge thanks to the author for sharing his work with me and also to Emily at Bonnier Zaffre for sending a copy of Blood's Game to me .





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Friday, 13 October 2017

#OneInAMillion Competition...

#OneInAMillion Competition Launches on Bookshop Day

Celebrate 1 Millionth Books Are My Bag Supporter

One Lucky Book Lover Will Win:

A one-off Orla Kiely bag | £250 in National Book Tokens | A Golden Ticket to Hay Festival |A rare print signed by Quentin Blake | Special edition Handmaid’s Tale | Lots of new books expected to be bestsellers this Christmas | West End Tickets

And much more!

London. 9 October 2017. Book lovers in the UK & Ireland have the chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime competition with an incredible bundle of prizes on offer to celebrate Books Are My Bag (BAMB) – the annual bookshop campaign – reaching one million supporters this year.




One lucky book lover is in with the chance of winning a host of extraordinary prizes donated from across the book industry and beyond, including a beautiful, totally one-off Orla Kiely luxury leather bag, in the style of this year’s Books Are My Bag tote bag.


To enter, book lovers just need to Tweet #OneInAMillion saying what their favourite bookshop is and why.



The #OneInAMillion Prize winner will take home:

· An exclusive, one-off Orla Kiely leather bag

· £250 in National Book Tokens

· A golden ticket to Hay Festival

· Afternoon Tea for Two at Claridges (Hachette)

· London Zoo tickets and a copy of Zoo Quest (Hachette)

· A limited-edition copy of Alan Bennett’s Keeping on Keeping On, RRP £200 (Faber)

· A limited-edition print from Billy and the Minpins, signed by Quentin Blake (Puffin)

· A special edition Handmaid’s Tale (Vintage)

· A set of Vintage Classics Dickens (Vintage)

· A signed Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World print by Kate Pankhurst (Bloomsbury)

· A signed first-edition copy of Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst (Pan Macmillan)

· A set of PanMacmillan70th Anniversary edition books (Pan Macmillan)

· A pair of tickets to The Christmasaurus Live on Stage at the London Apollo (Penguin Random House) – any date between 20 – 28th December

wo runners up will also be in with the chance of winning the following fantastic prizes:



Second Prize

· A signed copy of Hurrah for Gin by Katie Kirby, together with a bottle of Sipsmith gin (Hachette)

· A copy of Nigella Lawson’s new cookbook, At My Table (Vintage)

· A signed copy of The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein (Bloomsbury)

· A signed copy of My Name is Victoria by Lucy Worsley (Bloomsbury)

· A signed copy of Moonrise by Sarah Crossan (Bloomsbury)

· Subscription to the New Scientist magazine (Hachette)

· Haunted House tour and a signed copy of Devil’s Day by Andrew Hurley (Hachette)

· A mounted Emily Sutton print (Bloomsbury)

Third Prize

· A copy of Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and a box set of Stephen King DVD’s (Hachette)

· A signed copy of Down to Earth: Gardening Wisdom by Monty Don (DK)

· A copy of The Creakers by Tom Fletcher (Puffin)

· A signed print of Oliver Jeffers’ new book Here We Are (Penguin Random House)

· A Perfectly Norman print by Tom Percival (Bloomsbury)



The competition marks the 1 millionth Books Are My Bag tote bag to be worn by the public, showing their support for bookshops in the UK & Ireland.



Meryl Halls, Head of Membership Services at the Booksellers Association, said: “Reaching our one millionth supporter is a hugely exciting milestone, and we’re delighted to be able to show our thanks to bookshop lovers across the UK & Ireland with this fabulous prize. It is wonderful to see the book industry coming together to support bookshops with the amazing prizes they have donated. We wish everyone the best of luck, and look forward to hearing all about our supporters’ favourite bookshops!”



Bookshop lovers will have until 7th November to enter the competition, with the lucky winners being revealed on 25th November, when bookshops across the country will offer a Saturday Sanctuary as respite from the business of daily life.




Orla Kiely, said: “I am so happy to have collaborated with the Bookseller’s Association. As a great lover of books and bookshops, nothing gives me more pleasure than discovering a new book, whether it’s a beautiful edition on a new favourite photographer, a great novel or a rare out of print edition. There is nothing more relaxing, inspiring or stimulating than reading and losing oneself in another world. We should all take time to read and importantly, to encourage our children to love books.”



Now in its fifth year, the Books Are My Bag campaign highlights and celebrates the vital role of high street and campus bookshops. Over the last four years, a million people have worn a Books Are My Bag canvas bag in support of the campaign.



More details on Books Are My Bag 2017 will be unveiled in the coming weeks; keep an eye on www.booksaremybag.com for updates.



For more information on events, visit www.booksaremybag.com



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