As I am behind in posting updates about the books I have read (see previous post!) I have decided to attempt to do block updates to catch up.

Books 16-20 in 2015 were:

16.
Harriet Evans – A Place For Us
Rating: 3 out of 5

I hadn’t read a Harriet Evans novel in a long time, although I have several lined up. I saw that this one was available at the library so I snatched it up. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I found it quite long, and sad. The book looks at family, mental illness, secrets and affairs. It wasn’t a particularly easy read and one that I came away from feeling a bit down. I will read more by Evans, but this one isn’t one I would highly recommend.

17.

John Green – Paper Towns
Rating: 3 out of 5

This is the second John Green novel I have read. I loved The Fault in Our Stars so had high hopes for this novel. I found it a bit of a let down – well, I found the ending a let down. This is a story of friendship. A girl goes missing, and a group of friends – led by her neighbour – seek to find her. I liked the tension, I liked reading about the friendship group, but ultimately I didn’t really like the girl they were looking for and I didn’t like the outcome. I finished the book feeling a bit deflated. I will probably watch the film when it comes out though!

18.

M. C. Beaton – Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet
Rating: 4 out of 5

This is also the second M C Beaton novel I have read. I am thoroughly enjoying the Agatha Raisin series. I find them entertaining, gripping and easy reads. The crimes are never too gruesome, and there is something about Agatha that amuses me. This novel didn’t let me down. In this instalment, she investigates the murder of the vet that no one liked. It was a fun read. If you like light-hearted crime novels, this is for you!

19.

Rowan Coleman – The Memory Book
Rating: 4 out of 5

Man, this was a sad book. This was recommended to me by a friend (a fellow book lover), and I did really enjoy it. But goodness me was it a sad read. This novel looks at dementia, but in early age, and the effect it has on the family. It was a hard read, a bit of a tear-jerker, but one that I enjoyed. There was also a little twist, which I hadn’t seen coming, but was a bit heart-warming. This is a novel I would recommend.

20.

Debbie Macomber – 1022 Evergreen Place
Rating: 3 out of 5

As you know, I like a Debbie Macomber novels. They are quick, easy reads – definite Chick-Lit. This, of course, fit that bill perfectly. This is the 10th Cedar Cove instalment. As I am reaching the end of this series of books, I am finding them to be a bit same-y. That said, I liked the storyline about the WW2 letters, that brought a new element to these stories. If quick, girly reads are your thing, you will like this series books – but don’t read them all in one go!

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2015 Reading Book 11 – The Quiche of Death by M C Beaton

Synopsis:

Agatha Raisin has moved to a picture-book English village away from London public relations bustle, and wants to get in the swing. So she buys herself a quiche for the village quiche-making contest and is more than alarmed when it kills a judge. Hot on the trail of the poisoner, Agatha is fearless, all the while unaware, that she’s become the next victim.

Quick Thoughts
This is the first book in the Agatha Raisin series. I got it out of the library because I watched the TV adaptation of it and really enjoyed it. I found that I liked the book just as much! This is the first novel by M.C. Beaton that I have read and I was gripped from the beginning. Of course, I knew the outcome but that didn’t spoil the book for me. I have just taken out the library the second Agatha Raisin book, which I am looking forward to reading.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Book number 41 (I’m still excited that I have passed my goal!) was Robert Galbraith’s The Silkworm. This is book number 2 in the Cormoran Strike series. I had reserved this book from the library, as soon as I had finished The Cuckoo’s Calling but I couldn’t wait to read this book so ended up borrowing my Mum’s Kindle to read it!

This story is a lot darker than the first in the series, and I’m sure there were parts I didn’t quite understand but overall – great book! I couldn’t put it down. I was gripped. I didn’t guess the ending and I just really enjoyed this book. I hope we get more books in this series.

Addition: E-book and audiobook
Genre: Mystery, crime, detective
Published: 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Book number 37 is Robert Galbraith’s The Cuckoo’s Calling, the first book in the Cormoran Strike series. Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym, the author of this novel also goes by J. K. Rowling! And what a novel it is…!

I have read all the Harry Potter novels, and loved them – I even queued at midnight for the release of the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – so when I discovered that Robert Galbraith was actually Rowling, I was eager to read this book. Recently, I have found my reading tastes have changed a little. In the past, I wouldn’t have read a detective novel, for fear of it scaring me I think, yet over the past year or so I have started to really enjoy them. This book is no different. I started it as an audiobook, but about halfway in, I was so eager to find out what happens in the end, I downloaded the book and read it much quicker than it would have been read to me. I really enjoyed this book, I couldn’t put it down. I recommended it to my Mum (no surprises there!) and she also enjoyed it. This is such a good read – and not at all like Harry Potter!

Addition: E-book and audiobook
Genre: Mystery, crime, detective
Published: 2013
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Book number 32 was John Hart’s Down River. This book is from my Mount TBR challenge – it has been sitting on my shelf for a few years…

I think I had been putting off reading this novel in case I found it scary (yep, I’m a wuss…!) however, I wish I hadn’t put this book off, I really enjoyed it! It was fast-paced and well written. I didn’t guess the murderer and was gripped until the end. I thought this was a really good book and have now given it to my Mum to read.

Addition: Paperback
Genre: Crime
Published: 2007
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Addition: Paperback
Genre: Thriller, law fiction
Published: 2012
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis:

Given the importance of what they do, and the controversies that often surround them, and the violent people they sometimes confront, it is remarkable that in the history of the USA only four active federal judges have been murdered. Judge Raymond Fawcett just became number five. His body was found in the small basement of a lakeside cabin he had built himself and frequently used on weekends. When he did not show up for a trial on Monday morning, his law clerks panicked, called the FBI, and in due course the agents found the crime scene. There was no forced entry, no struggle, just two dead bodies – Judge Fawcett and his young secretary. I did not know Judge Fawcett, but I know who killed him, and why. I am a lawyer, and I am in prison. It’s a long story.

I have read a few John Grisham novels over the years, starting with the Rain Maker, but it is my husband who is the Grisham fan in our house. I borrowed The Racketeer from a friend for my husband to read and he really enjoyed it. In fact, he read it in one weekend, which is quite unusual for him. He recommended the novel to me, so I thought I would try it, and I am really pleased I did.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this novel. The previous Grisham books I have read have focussed around lawyers fighting injustices in court. This book is slightly different – it is a lawyer seeking revenge on the FBI who have put him in jail. I looked at some of the Goodreads comments before reading this novel and it is a mixed bag. A lot of the hardcore Grisham fans seemed disappointed with this novel as it isn’t his usual style, but as someone who dips into his novels, I liked it. I found the story engrossing and I of course did not work out the twist. I kept saying to my husband “where has so-and-so appeared from and what is their link in the story”, but he wouldn’t tell me! I was intrigued by the story and was guessing up until the end.

I started off by liking Malcolm Bannister, but as the story progressed I found myself disliking him! In fact, I’m not sure I liked any of the characters. Not one of them sticks out in my mind as one I related to or even cared for as I read the book. However, this book has a good story so the lack of likable characters didn’t bother me at all.

I enjoyed this book. I thought it was well written with a good twist. I am pleased I borrowed it for my husband and then chose to read it myself. I even then passed it on to my Mum, who also enjoyed it. Grisham still writes about a lawyer, this novel just has a different spin on the role of the lawyer. I didn’t guess the ending and did have the “oh, I get it now” moment. I thought this was a great read, different from the novels I tend to read. It was exhilarating and fast paced. I was hooked from the beginning and can happily rate this book 4 out of 5.

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The fourth book I have completed this year is another Secret Seven book by Enid Blyton. I am enjoying reading through this series, and am doing well with my Secret Seven Challenge – only 12 books to go!

I enjoyed this story more than Secret Seven Adventure. I found this one had more charm and for me it was a more nostalgic read. In this book, the Secret Seven set out to protect a new friend and his kitten and by doing so solve the mystery of postal vans being robbed. Again, this is a short book – only 120 pages, with large print and illustrations, but a quick and fun read. I love reading these books and being transported back to my childhood. This was another fun and quick read.

Addition: Paperback
Genre: Children’s; mystery
Published: 1951
Rating: 3 out of 5

A review will follow soon.

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The third book finished this year is The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty. This novel was published last year and I remember there being a lot of hype around it – it seemed every website I visited had an ad for this book so I bought it, and finally got round to reading it the other day. I enjoyed this novel, but to be honest it wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be considering the amount of promoting I saw. It was a good book, I type with a casual shrug of the shoulders. It didn’t read as fast as I thought it would but it was an interesting storyline. I wasn’t surprised by the secret, but I was surprised by the wife’s reaction and I think what kept me hooked was wanting to know what she was going to do. This was a good read, but not the best I have ever read.

Addition: E-book
Genre: Fiction, crime, chick-lit
Published: 2013
Rating: 3 out of 5

A review will be published soon.

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Addition: E-book
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5
Synopsis:

It all starts on the one-hundredth birthday of Allan Karlsson. Sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home, he is waiting for the party he-never-wanted-anyway to begin. The Mayor is going to be there. The press is going to be there. But, as it turns out, Allan is not… Slowly but surely Allan climbs out of his bedroom window, into the flowerbed (in his slippers) and makes his getaway. And so begins his picaresque and unlikely journey involving criminals, several murders, a suitcase full of cash, and incompetent police. As his escapades unfold, we learn something of Allan’s earlier life in which – remarkably – he helped to make the atom bomb, became friends with American presidents, Russian tyrants, and Chinese leaders, and was a participant behind the scenes in many key events of the twentieth century. Already a huge bestseller across Europe, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared is a fun and feel-good book for all ages.

I picked this book up as it was picked in our book club. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect when I started reading it.

The story follows Allan, who on his 100th birthday decides he has had enough of the residential home he has been living in so he climbs out of the window and slowly shuffles to the bus station. There, a criminal asks him to keep an eye on his large suitcase whilst he uses the facilities. Allan, however, decides that he will take the suitcase with him when he boards the bus. This is the beginning of an escape across the country and a police search for him. Whilst all this is going on, we are taken back in time to learn about Allan and the eventful life he has led. He grew up in Sweden but has seen a lot of the world, and mostly by accident. He has been involved in making atom bombs and walked across the Himalayas, plus encountered many political figures in his life.

At the start of this book I was gripped. I was fascinated by this old man and why he was escaping from the home he lived in. He was an interesting character – quite quirky and different. I think what surprised me was that he did seem to have all his wits about him, which I wouldn’t have necessarily guessed from the fact he decides to escape through a window. I did find the early recounting of his life interesting too. At the beginning it was exciting learning about all the places he ended up – always by accident – and the political figures he met. I did find the book fairly funny too, but eventually the book got very same-y. Everything seemed to be repeating itself and the book became quite predictable. The political figures changed but the storylines and encounters remained the same. Even the current day events became a touch boring. I felt the book was a little too long and some of the adventures could have been cut out.

There isn’t a standout, favourite character for me. To begin with I liked Allan, but on reflection all I can remember about him is that he liked vodka and didn’t like politics. I don’t remember much about the other characters to be honest.

At the book club I go to we rate everything out of 10 and the overall score this book earned was 7.3. The general feedback was: it was funny with a good pace and a good ending. A friend of mine has also recently read the book. His thoughts are here.

Overall, I would rate this book 3 out of 5. It started with great potential. It was interesting and funny but I felt it went on too long and become predictable, with very similar stories all the way through it.

3 star

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Addition: Paperback, review book

Genre: Fiction, crime

Rating: 1 out of 5

Synopsis:

To serve society or humanity? It’s been fourteen years since the basketball-mad detective Fran Obrien captured the urban bomber Lavi, who has since moved to Spain and rehabilitated himself beyond recognition. Fran is fresh off a two-year sabbatical, during which he tended to 11-year-old Ben, the family comedian, and 17-year-old Alice, with, yes, as much attitude as you’d expect. His estranged boss Karl has retired and Fran must learn to deal with the new brass – no small task itself. His first assignment is to investigate an act of alleged political corruption which seems more wild goose chase than duck in a barrel, leading him to question his decision to return to work. After an extended-family culinary expedition to Budapest, Fran’s nine-to-five job takes him ‘almost’ to Albany and to Central America, where he must untangle the mother of all webs. His wife, local family doctor Darby, goes along for the ride, and, oh, piña coladas “to die for.” For a detective and amateur gourmet chef like no other, Cookbook for a New Europe is a ride Fran certainly didn’t expect. He’s been fiercely focused for years, but a spate of unintended yet momentous events unfolds once he gives free rein to his emotions, and his recipes.

I received this as a review book from the publisher Authorhouse. I have to say, I didn’t like the book. To be honest, I didn’t even finish it. I reached the halfway point and realised not only had I read several pages and taken in nothing, I also had no idea what was going on – which was how I felt for most of the read.

The story follows Fran, a NYPD cop. He has just finished a two year sabbatical but when he tries to go back to work, his return date is pushed back by a few more weeks. He decides to spend this time visiting distant relatives in Hungary, where he sightsees, is astonished most of the time by the food and discovers he is a choreographer in his head. When he returns to work, he is given a case that he thinks can’t be solved but will just keep him quiet for a few weeks, so he starts to spend his time drinking gross coffee and seeing his godson in prison.

I didn’t get any further than that when I was reading and I reached the middle of the book. The reasons I put the book down are these:

  1. I mainly didn’t know what was going on
  2. I found the writing very distorted – like Segal had suddenly had a thought that he must put to paper immediately, even though it doesn’t fit with anything else
  3. I didn’t really like Fran – all he seemed to think about was himself and food
  4. I found the story a bit boring. The synopsis is really interesting but the story itself isn’t. I was halfway through and he had barely started looking at the case mentioned.

I can only give this book 1 out of 5 as I didn’t finish it. This book didn’t hold my attention and it took me an hour to read 10 pages – life is too short for books I don’t enjoy so I put it down.

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