What I've read lately

Last week I said that in all that heat and after the party I escaped to a good book, and the review of that book is the first one below. It's not released yet and I've been able to read this through NetGalley, which is a great way of reading some new books.

Although the view of leaves through our new gazebo did test my concentration powers!

The Good Daughter, Karin Slaughter

I've not read any of Karin's books before, but she has written the Will Trent and Grant County series, both of which I'll be checking out - if you've read those, I'd be keen to know your views.

This was one of those books that got me hooked from the off. The chapters are long though, so if like me you aim to stop reading at the end of a chapter be prepared for your life to get a bit out of synch. Dinner will be late, because "just one more page!" - but it's worth it.

Throughout the book I questioned which of the sisters the book was titled after, and I think probably both at times. It's a fascinating read, delving into relationships and situations, someI hope you'll never experience first-hand, but told with such clarity and emotion that you really can't help but get involved. 

I'd thoroughly recommend this book when it's released on 13 July.

About the book:

"Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn's happy small town family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father – the town's notorious defence attorney – devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.

"Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father's footsteps to become a lawyer herself – the archetypal good daughter. But when violence comes to the town again – and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatised – Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it's a case which can't help triggering the terrible memories she's spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime which destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won't stay buried for ever..."

The Fifth Letter, Nicole Moriaty 

This was a book that was easy to get into and that continued as the story develops. The main character tells the majority of the story in a confessional box, but don't let that put you off.

I started reading this on a plane and was grateful for its non-complicated plot. I guessed who'd written the fifth letter early on, not sure how - gut instinct, perhaps but as the book went on I questioned my choice, but I needn't have. Good for those times when you want a simple and easy read.

About the book:

"Joni, Trina, Deb and Eden. Best friends since the first day of school. Best friends, they liked to say, forever. But now they are in their thirties and real life - husbands, children, work - has got in the way. So, resurrecting their annual trip away, Joni has an idea, something to help them reconnect. Each woman will write an anonymous letter, sharing with their friends the things that are really going on in their lives.

"But as the confessions come tumbling out, Joni starts to feel the certainty of their decades-long friendships slip from her fingers. Anger. Accusations. Desires. Deceit. And then she finds another letter. One that was never supposed to be read. A fifth letter. Containing a secret so big that its writer had tried to destroy it. And now Joni is starting to wonder, did she ever really know her friends at all?"

A Year and a Day, Isabelle Broom

A captivating story that didn't go quite where I expected it to. Set in the beautiful city of Prague this book reminded me of a long ago trip there, so much so that I even looked up potential flights.  I couldn't make them work from City airport, so a return trip will need more consideration, but I'd love to go back.

The story is of six couples and their experiences in the city, and of their relationships too. And as you'd expect, none of them are standard - whatever standard is. Definitely worth a read, and maybe you'll need a tissue or two too, but I'm sure that like me, if you've visited Prague then you might be tempted to book a return trip too.

About the book:

"Three women. Three love stories. One city.

"For Megan, visiting Prague with her friend Ollie it's just business. Nothing more. Because if she admits the truth she might lose everything.

For Hope, this trip is a surprise treat from Charlie, her new partner. But she's struggling to enjoy the city when she knows how angry her daughter is. And that it's all her fault.

"For Sophie, Prague has always been magical. And now she's counting down the moments until her boyfriend Robin joins her in the city that holds so many of their memories . . ."

Although I haven't read the last two of these for a while now, I enjoyed them and would recommend, both of them are already published. And now I've got my reading bug back I'm already stuck into a book by Christobel Kent, an author I've read and enjoyed before.  I've discovered that wanting to finish a book is a great way to ensure I leave the office for lunch - every one's a winner right?

What have you read that you think I'd like?

What I've read lately...

I was right to think that my reading "spurt" might be short-lived when I last wrote about what I was reading. I seem to have got stuck on one book right now. Not because it's a dud, but because I'm struggling with reading about how a young cancer patient copes with their treatment. It's beautifully written but as you can imagine, quite emotional.

Instead of reading I've been getting my craft on, so all is not lost - and if you want to see what I've been up to take a peek here.

After a beautiful weekend, the summer seems to have truly gone now - we've heavy rain forecast here for this afternoon, I thought I'd share the last of what I consider my 'summer' reads:

1. A Very Big House in the Country, Claire Sandy

The story is set in a rented holiday home, and a very big one at that as there's three families there sharing a holiday. Between them there's a few kids too, the Teenagers and the Eights as well as a baby. There's drama along the way too - as you'd expect from a family holiday, and the C-word (cancer, nothing ruder!) threatens to raise its head, but doesn't quite make it. It's a busy fortnight, one that starts with a bang and involves you in the trials and tribulations of the families dramas. And there's more than one.  Definitely worth a read.

2. Uncluttered Attic Secrets, Jan Christensen

I didn't want this book to end. There is an attic and it is very cluttered, which is out of keeping with the rest of the house which has been inherited by Leslie. With her friend Tina they start to sort through the attic and they make quite a discovery and one I hadn't thought of. As the story unfolds there's more drama too, let me just say this book involves secret rooms and some undercover amateur sleuthing along the way too.  

3. #PleaseRetweet, Emily Benet

Another book I couldn't put down. It's a lighthearted read and follows the main character - @sparkymay - as she starts a new job helping celebrities with a tendency to be a bit of a loose cannon look good in the Twittersphere. The job gets too much with unintentional consequences, she starts to think in hashtags, lose a sense of purpose and lose touch with reality. An amusing read and one that I hope none of us ever succumb to. 

4. And what now?

Well, I'm going to carry on reading The Boy in the Mirror by Tom Preston, which is the book I mentioned earlier. It is powerfully written and it's one that I need to find time to read as reading it in bed before turning the lights out isn't working for me. 

And looking at my current reading pile it seems to be dominated by magazines and a single subject! I'm sure I've got some books along that genre too.


I'm hoping that changing genre will help, but what do you do if you get stuck on a book?

What I've read lately...

I've always liked books and reading - my bookshelves are testament to that - but I go through phases of reading a little and phases where I read a lot. Right now it's in the lot phase - and that's been prompted by signing up to NetGalley - so I thought I'd share what I've been reading recently with you.

There is one actual book in my list, but I've read the majority of these on my kindle. While I like the feel of a book in my hands, the thing is once I get going I don't stop at one book so if I'm out and about then the kindle comes into its own. During my recent Jury Service although there was a lot of sitting around waiting to be called, there was also a lot of opportunity to pull out my kindle!


1. The Other Side of the Bridge, Mary Lawson

This one's a re-read and I don't often do that, but it's a book I don't want to lose just yet. It was long listed for the 2006 Man Booker Prize, and was on Richard and Judy's Book Club List too, so it's not a new title.

It's about two brothers, Arthur and Jake, their differences and how their already uneasy relationship is driven to breaking point when Laura arrives in their 1930s rural community. And it's a book that lives up to the quote on the front: "a beautiful read, on every level"

2.  All the Stars in Heaven, Adriana Trigiani

This is for the most part set in Hollywood during its Golden Age. It's based on a true life event - Loretta Young's affair with Clark Cable and one that was never public during their lifetimes, despite the child they shared. It wasn't something I was familiar with before reading the book, but it was something I googled before I finished it as I wanted to know if was pure fiction or if there was an element of real life in it. It seems it was the latter. 

An interesting book, that I had to work to get into but by the end one that I couldn't put down so definitely worth a read.

3.  Drive Me Crazy, Portia MacIntosh

This was a modern love affair with twists and turns you don't imagine right from the start. It's a book that demonstrates that not all IT guys are nerds, although that's something I knew already! It's a fun entertaining read, I zipped through it because I couldn't put it down.

4. Secret Letters, Abby Bardi

The plot evolves following the death of their mum as the siblings sort through her belongings and as you might imagine discover some secret letters. The main character convinces herself the letters are from her father and she learns more about J. Fallingwater and his Indian heritage, opening a restaurant along the way which has shall we say, one or two setbacks. 

There's a twist as you'd expect and J. Fallingwater isn't what is first thought. This is one of those books where you feel part of the family and start to care what happens on the highs and lows of their life.

5. The Secret Widow, Sylvie Fox

Nari is a doctor and at a conference, she needs to forget two dates. She has a ritual for coping with those and the conference provides the ideal opportunity. This is a tender book where we follow Nari as she learns to trust and love again, while learning more of her story. This one made me cry, more than once and it's one you can lose yourself in. This is one of my two must-reads.

6. The Tea Planter's Wife, Dinah Jefferies

Set in Ceylon in 1913 the book follows Gwendolyn Hooper as she arrives in the country as a nineteen-year-old bride eager to rejoin her husband who she fell in love with in London. But on the tea plantation he's not the same man, he's wrapped up in his work and she's left to explore the plantation and her new life alone with little help from her sister-in-law.  She soon falls pregnant though and both are overjoyed with the news. In the delivery room she's faced with a terrible choice and buries a secret throughout the majority of her marriage. I'll not share the ending but this is my second must-read. This is the one that I read late into the night, wanting to know how it turned out. It was also the one that once it had ended I felt empty, because I wanted to know more.

Sometimes books get you like that don't they? You don't want them to end and it's true you're left with a book hangover!


And now? 

I've just started A Very Big House in the Country by Claire Sandy, so I'll let you know more about how I get on with that next time.  


What have you read recently?