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

From the author of the critically acclaimed What Alice Forgot comes a breakout new novel about the secrets husbands and wives keep from each other.

My Darling Cecilia
If you’re reading this, then I’ve died . . .

Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret – something so terrible it would destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others too. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive . . .

Cecilia Fitzpatrick achieved it all – she’s an incredibly successful business woman, a pillar of her small community and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia – or each other – but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s devastating secret.

The third book I finished reading in 2014 was this one, The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty. This is the first novel by Moriarty that I have read. I was eager to read this book after having seen images of it everywhere! It was definitely well publicised.

The story follows three women: Rachel, whose daughter died young; Tess, whose husband has decided he is in love with her cousin and Cecilia, whose husband wrote her a letter that she was meant to find after his death. However, she stumbles across it whilst looking for something in the attic, whilst he is still alive. After questioning him about it, she becomes suspicious and reads the letter. What she reads changes everything, not just in her life but also in the lives of Tess and Rachel.

I have to be honest and say I didn’t find this book as good as I hoped it was going to be. I felt it dragged a little bit. I kept checking what page I was on and realising I still had many more to go. The letter isn’t opened until we are about half way through the story, which meant for me, the book did drag a little. It picked up towards the end but what kept me going was firstly wanting to know what the letter said (which didn’t surprise me once the secret was revealed), and then what Cecilia was going to do about it.

I wasn’t hugely bothered by any of the characters. I didn’t find myself warming to any of them, or even empathising with them. I was sorry that Rachel lost her daughter, but she neglected her son and moaned about her daughter-in-law. Tess decided to seek revenge on her husband and ended up with a dark secret – I didn’t like that either. Cecilia was my favourite out of the three, but I don’t think she made great choices and I found her hard to warm up to.

I wasn’t hugely happy with the way Moriarty concluded the book either. I liked that she made a point to wrap everything up, but the way she wrapped things up seemed like an easy way out. I felt like she undid the whole story in just a few concluding pages.

I feel like I’ve been quite harsh in this review. The truth is, it wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. The mystery kept me reading until it was revealed and the reaction kept me reading to the last page. This isn’t a bad book. I was entertained. I did read all of it – I am quick to put down a book I don’t enjoy. It just didn’t live up to the high standards I had set it and that is why I am rating it 3 out of 5.

Another review of The Husband’s Secret can be found here.

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Addition: Paperback
Genre: Children’s, mystery
Published: 1950
Rating: 3 out of 5
Synopsis:

When a priceless pearl necklace goes missing, the Secret Seven are first off the mark to catch the thief! Why? Because they saw him making his escape! Now all they have to do is find the necklace!

This is book number 2 in the Secret Seven books by Enid Blyton. These are a series of mystery books for children based around a group of seven friends who are always looking for adventure. In this novel, the Seven are out playing Indians in the woods when Colin sees a man jumping over a very high wall and then hiding in the same tree he is. This is all very suspicious…and then on the radio the Seven hear that a priceless pearl necklace has been stolen – did Colin see the thief? Will the Seven be able to catch him and find the necklace?

I did enjoy this book, but sadly this time my adult senses did intervene a little. Of course they were going to find the thief and the necklace, a group of seven children! My cynicism spoiled this novel for me a little. I loved the first book, but this was a little far-fetched even for me.

This book does have a lot in it and I can see why children would love it. There is adventure, there are games, there is a mystery to solve, and we get taken to the circus – plus behind the scenes at the circus, where we meet the animals. For a short book (my addition only had 121 pages) there is a lot packed in to it. I solved the mysteries that the Seven struggled with very quickly but I don’t know that a child would. There is a little bit of suspense and I can see a child being sucked into this adventure and loving it. For me as an adult, a little bit of the magic was lost on me.

Again, I didn’t find that the age of the book mattered to me. I barely noticed that the book is over 60 years old. I do think that Enid Blyton has a timeless style and I like children today would enjoy this book a lot.

I’m rating this book 3 out of 5 because I did enjoy it; however I felt a little old for it this time round. That won’t stop me reading this to my children, and encouraging them to read Enid Blyton, and it won’t stop me reading the rest of the Secret Seven books.

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The second book to be completed in 2014 is another Secret Seven book! This story, The Secret Seven Adventure, is number 2 in the series and again was a quick, easy and fun read. I enjoyed this book and the adventure I was taken on. I did roll my eyes in places and work out the mystery before they did (well done me!) but it was a good read and like before, I loved being transported back into my childhood as I read this book. That means I have now read 2 books this year, and have 2 books in my Secret Seven challenge.

Addition: Paperback
Genre: Children’s; mystery
Published: 1950
Rating: 3 out of 5

A review will be published soon, I hope!

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Addition: Paperback
Genre: Children’s; mystery
Published: 1949
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis:

It’s their very first adventure and the Secret Seven super-sleuths are already on the trail of a mystery! The gang are dressed in disguise, following a lead to a spooky old house in the snow!

I love Enid Blyton! I need to just get that out there. Last year I read The Enchanted Wood and loved it! I also read 5 out of the 6 Malory Towers books. I loved them too! It is probably just nostalgia that makes me rate these books so highly but to be honest, I loved them as a child; and I can’t lie, I love them as an adult. I can’t wait to read them to my children when they are older. I love collecting them and re-reading them. Because of this, I have set myself the challenge to read all the Secret Seven books this year. I can now check the first one off the list. And yes, I did very much enjoy this Enid Blyton story too!

The Secret Seven is a great introduction to the seven children – Peter, who leads the society, Janet, Colin, Jack, Pam, Barbara and George; plus Scamper the dog. They are seven children looking for fun, so they create a secret society. We learn that before Christmas they had helped out in the community, but since it was just after Christmas and everyone had been looked after they were seeking something fun to do – maybe even solve a mystery! It is Jack who stumbles upon the mystery at the old, deserted house. When he is heading home at night he hears a car pull up and a very strange noise coming from the back. What is it? Who are the people moving things in the night? How is the old house connected? This is a mystery for the Secret Seven to solve!

I did really enjoy this book. There are some books which can be enjoyed by both adults and children – even when the intended audience is children – and I think this is one of them. I was immediately sucked into the adventure and the society with the secret password and the special badges. It reminded me of the games I used to play with my friends – although I never crept around creepy old buildings! I didn’t notice the age of the book either. Enid Blyton wrote this book back in 1949, but it didn’t feel dated. Sure, the children weren’t using telephones or email to communicate, they wrote letters – but surely children in secret societies still do that? I didn’t feel the age of this book hindered it at all.

The story was exciting and fun. My addition is only 117 pages long, with large print and illustrations, so it took 45 minutes to read; however it was 45 minutes of joy! The children are cunning and adventurous. They have to be brave and sometimes they are a bit naughty and reckless, but that makes for more fun reading about them! The story has suspense – it may even be a little frightening for the younger reader, but of course it has a happy ending. This book might be a bit twee, but I think we need that sometimes.

I have high praise for this book. It was a nice way to spend a quiet evening at home while my husband is out. I really enjoyed being transported back into a world of fun, secret societies and mysteries. I enjoyed this book as a child, and I have enjoyed it as an adult. It isn’t a tough read, but it is exciting and I am looking forward to reading it with my children. I am rating this 4 out of 5 because it was a book I really liked. It isn’t my favourite childhood book, but I love the author and I love re-reading her books. Reading through this series is going to be a fun challenge!

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The first book to be finished in 2014 is the first book in Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven series; simply called The Secret Seven. This was a fun book to read! I loved being transported back to a story I read as a child, remembering the characters and the storyline. I read this book in about 45 minutes and simply really enjoyed it. It also means I am one book closer to my goal of 40 books, and one book in to my challenge to read all the Secret Seven books this year.

Addition: Paperback
Genre: Children’s; mystery
Published: 1949
Rating: 4 out of 5

A review will be posted soon.

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

The new novel from bestselling author Rachel Hore, much loved for her stories in which past and present are grippingly entwined.When Emily Gordon, editor at a London publishing house, commissions an account of great English novelist Hugh Morton, she finds herself steering a tricky path between Morton’s formidable widow, Jacqueline, who’s determined to protect his secrets, and the biographer, charming and ambitious Joel Richards. But someone is sending Emily mysterious missives about Hugh Morton’s past and she discovers a buried story that simply has to be told…

One winter’s day in 1948, nineteen year old Isabel Barber arrives at her Aunt Penelope’s house in Earl’s Court having run away from home to follow her star. A chance meeting with an East European refugee poet leads to a job with his publisher, McKinnon & Holt, and a fascinating career beckons. But when she develops a close editorial relationship with charismatic young debut novelist Hugh Morton and the professional becomes passionately personal, not only are all her plans put to flight, but she finds herself in a struggle for her very survival.

Rachel Hore’s intriguing and suspenseful new novel magnificently evokes the milieux of London publishing past and present and connects the very different worlds of two young women, Emily and Isabel, who through their individual quests for truth, love and happiness become inextricably linked.

I loved this book. I have really enjoyed all of Rachel Hore‘s books; each of them has been highly rated. I lost my reading bug a few months ago as I have recently given birth and I was too tired and busy to read. This is the first book in a while that has captured my attention and made me long for a few minutes to myself so I can read a couple more pages.

The story follows Emily and Isabel, two women moving in the world of publishing, but many years apart. Emily is given the opportunity to oversee the publishing of a new biography of the famous author Hugh Morton. She is quickly sucked into his world, and the world of Isabel, as someone keeps leaving her extracts from Isabel’s diary. Emily is determined to see Isabel’s story told – the girl who ran away from home and entered publishing by chance. Here she fell in love with Hugh but marriage changed her. What ever became of her? And could Emily get past Hugh’s widow to let the story of Hugh’s first wife out?

I am a huge fan of Rachel Hore and get very excited every time a new novel is released. I like that she is an author who isn’t churning out more than one novel a year and that her books don’t seem samey after a while. She has a similar style to Kate Morton, another author I love reading. Hore’s books are not quite as long though! I find Hore’s novels draw me in and immediately I want to sit and read the whole thing in one go (and I would of done, if I didn’t have a baby and husband to look after!)

I instantly liked Emily and did find myself envying her job – she gets to read books all the time! I loved getting a glimpse into the world of publishing; hardcore but a lot of fun discovering now authors and talents. I found myself liking Isabel a lot too and really empathising with her throughout the novel. She had to face a lot – finding a job in a world that didn’t think women should be educated, falling in love with an older man and competing with a woman who was in love with her husband. Not only that, but she had to face post-natal depression; an illness not recognised back in the 1950’s and 1960’s. I thought all of this was dealt with very well by Hore. She addressed the issue in a sensitive manner but didn’t hide how hard it must be to suffer so soon after giving birth.

This was a well told story. Hore moves between the present day and the past seamlessly and I always knew where in the story I was. She writes really well. I often find when I am reading that the grammar in many books is appealing – things such as sentence structure are simply shocking. However, I didn’t find that with Hore. The writing drew me in, it didn’t distract me and annoy me. I loved the fact this novel isn’t “chick-lit”. It is well written fiction, with a historical twist and a romance. There is much more to the book than the latest love affair. We see life in the 1950’s; we see what the publishing world might be like then and now and we see two strong, independent women striving through life and being a success.

I have rated this book 5 out of 5 because I loved it. I loved how well it was written; I loved the story lines and the characters; but most of all I loved that this is the first book I have wanted to read in a long time and it is the book that has returned my reading bug. For me, this is easily a top rated book.

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Addition: Paperback, library book

Genre: Chick-lit, historical fiction

Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

Lovers are torn apart in World War Two and a mother and daughter separated by guilt and shame in a stunning new novel from the author of DANCE WITH WINGS

When the Second World War breaks out, Carrie Chapman rebels against her controlling husband to work at a local hospital. Amidst the chaos of the Bristol blitz, Carrie finds herself falling in love with a young doctor, Dev. Carrie’s willing to defy convention and leave her stifling marriage for Dev, but one summer evening, horrific events change Carrie’s life for ever. Since that night, for forty years, Carrie’s beloved daughter, Gillian, has refused to see or speak to her. Now, someone is digging into the past. Will Carrie break her long silence and, if she does, will Gillian finally be able to forgive?

I picked up this book because Amazon kept putting it into my recommendations – and I was pleased I did pick it! Amazon got it right!

This is the story of Carrie, a girl who before WW1 falls pregnant out of wedlock and has to marry the father Frank. At first it is fine, she thinks she is in love, but when she loses the baby she realises she wasn’t. Frank is demanding and seemingly uncaring and they are not happy together. Carrie doesn’t know what love is until she meets Dev, a doctor at the hospital she works at during WW1. She tells Frank she is leaving him but later that day he has an accident and loses his leg. She is guilt-ridden, convinced it is her fault, so she stays with him. They have Gillian but Frank’s moods get worse over the years, as does his violence towards Carrie. Then one night Frank ends up dead and Carrie goes to prison for it. Gillian goes to live with her aunt Lizzy, Frank’s sister – who turns her against Carrie. Gillian never sees Carrie again, or her sister Andrea. For many years Andrea has been writing to Gillian, trying to persuade her to see Carrie again. Gillian puts the letters away, but they are found by Kathryn, Gillian’s daughter. With troubles of her own, Kathryn decides to go see Carrie. Can she find out what happened to make Gillian hate Carrie so much?

I was immediately drawn into this book. The book I read before, Wicked, was long and drawn out but this book wasn’t like that at all. The story was interesting from page one and I read this quickly because it held my interest. It is a great story, with lots of twists and turns. But the last 50 pages I had worked out what happened but I did have to go through all the other options to get there! This is a big book – over 500 pages, but it read so fast! This book had it all in my opinion. There is love, history, murder and mystery. I really enjoyed this story.

I really liked the characters. I love a book where I am interested in the characters and want to know the outcomes of their lives. I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of Carrie – a woman who went to prison for manslaughter – but I loved her! As an older woman she was kind and caring. She had given up her life to protect someone and was still holding on to that secret. As a young woman she tries to be honest and a good wife to a man who doesn’t love her. I thought Andrea was great. I thought it was brilliant that 40 years on she was still flustered by the man who she had a crush on when she was teenager! I was so disappointed in Frank. He started like a kind gentleman – coming to Carrie’s aid when she had a puncture on her bike down a country lane, and then pursuing her but the longer they were married the more jealous and controlling her became – even before Dev came into the picture. Maybe his attitude was what pushed her towards Dev? It was such a shame that Frank turned into a monster – an angry man who hurt his family.

This book wasn’t written how I was expecting it to be. Most books that jump around in time start each chapters with the date at the top of each chapter but in this book, we are in this year but floating into the past through Carrie’s memories. It is a seamless transition into the past, which doesn’t leave you confused but draws you in.

I’ve rated this 4 out of 5 because I thought this was a fabulous story that was full of life, excitement and mystery. I was guessing most of the way through this book but loved reading how the past unfolded. This is so easy to read and it kept me engaged all the way through. This is a great book!

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THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Addition: Review e-book from Netgalley

Genre: Young adult, chick-lit, mystery

Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

This was supposed to be the best summer of Maggie’s life. Now it’s the one she’d do anything to forget.

Maggie Reynolds remembers hanging out at the gorge with her closest friends after a blowout party the night before. She remembers climbing the trail hand in hand with her perfect boyfriend, Joey. She remembers that last kiss, soft, lingering, and meant to reassure her. So why can’t she remember what happened in the moment before they were supposed to dive? Why was she left cowering at the top of the cliff, while Joey floated in the water below—dead?

As Maggie’s memories return in snatches, nothing seems to make sense. Why was Joey acting so strangely at the party? Where did he go after taking her home? And if Joey was keeping these secrets, what else was he hiding?

The latest novel from the author of The Tension of Opposites, One Moment is a mysterious, searing look at how an instant can change everything you believe about the world around you.

I received this as an e-book from Netgalley. I haven’t read any other novels from Kristina McBride, however I read the synopsis and though it sounded liked a good book – and I was right!

The story is about one moment in time that changed everything. A group of six friends, who have been best friends since they were small, are hanging out at the creek by where they live at the beginning of the summer holidays before senior year. Maggie, Joey, Tanna, Pete, Shannon and Adam are drinking, messing around and just hanging out. Maggie is dared to jump from the the top of the creek into the water below with her boyfriend Joey. She is scared of heights and never done the jump before. Shannon is pushing her to do it – there is almost malice in her tone as she thinks Maggie won’t do it. Maggie does up to the top with Joey, but something isn’t right. She notices Joey is wearing a bracelet, something he has never done before. All of sudden, she is hiding and crying under a tree, Adam is looking for her and there is screaming all around. She didn’t make the jump – but it seems Joey did, and he is dead. What happened?

This is a well written, enjoyable book. I read it in the space of about 3 hours. I was hooked; the way McBride wrote the book made me want to know what happened. She jumps between past and present, telling the story about Maggie and Joey, and their group of friends, as Maggie desperately tries to get over Joey’s death, and remember what happened. The memories come back in flashes as we watch the group fall out, grieve and discover all of Joey’s secrets. It seems Joey was hiding a lot. I quickly worked out what his secret was – that he was dating  Shannon as well as Maggie – and then realised that Maggie worked that out when they were about to jump. However, I liked reading about the friendships they had, how the story fitted together and how Maggie worked through her pain. Working out the twist didn’t ruin the story at all.

I liked Maggie. I felt for her – her whole world was Joey, and losing him was awful. What made it worse was that she didn’t know what happened – did she kill him? I felt for her as she struggled through the grief, realised Joey wasn’t the person she thought he was and getting over the heartbreak her friends caused her. I liked Adam, Pete and Tanna too – Adam especially as Maggie was so important to her. Again, I wasn’t surprised when he revealed how he felt for her. The more the story went on, the angrier I got at Joey – he had seemed like a great guy to know, a great guy to date, but in fact he wasn’t at all, and right from the beginning Shannon seemed horrible. I like a book that makes me react to the characters and I wanted the best for Maggie and just felt anger towards Joey.

This was a really enjoyable book. The story had me hooked. The answers weren’t a surprise but this was written in a way that kept my interest. McBride writes great characters that I could dislike, cheer on and empathise with. This is a young adult book, but that didn’t stop the enjoyment. It wasn’t a tough book to read and I flew through the story – wanting to know every last detail. McBride portrays teenagers in an accurate way – hormonal, reckless and often doing what they shouldn’t – like getting drunk and throwing parties. She writes the parents well – protective, scared for their children and loving. The story was interesting and although the language and writing style didn’t test me, I was gripped from the beginning and read this very quickly. This is a great read.

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