New Short Story Series

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The Woolly Murders3

Mike Malone is, I hasten to add, still alive and kicking and in the middle of a case. As this case is rather tricky to solve, light relief was needed and so I have decided to introduce a series of short stories.

The main character is Emma Powers, a forty-something owner of a second hand bookshop/coffee shop set in the fictional town of Wellbridge – a town not too far removed from my own home town, even down to the abbey references. Why a bookshop? Simple, if circumstances were different, that is the very thing that I would want to be doing. I did look into it seriously several years ago, but the sums did not add up. After taking into account business rates and utility bills, the turnover required to make a second hand bookshop profitable was unrealistic. A pity really. But now, Emma Powers can run the bookshop for me.

The first story, ‘Discovered’ draws on an event in Wellbridge’s history and Emma’s bookshop is the place where a spirit from that time is wanting his voice to be heard. This series of stories will be very different from the Mike Malone series, I hope you like them.

 

The Butcher’s Hook – a review

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As you may have guessed, I have fallen a little behind with my book reviews. Catch up time!

This book was a present from my husband and I was wary, I tend to stay away from ‘celebrity’ authors – sometimes with justification. Not this one. This is atmospheric and dark. Set in Georgian London, we are taken by the hand and shown all elements of life at that time.

The heroine is Anne Jaccob, the daughter of  well to do family whose mother is constantly pregnant and whose father is trying to marry her off to a wealthy suitor. In the beginning you could feel quite sorry for Anne’s plight, but this is a feisty heroine, a girl who definitely knows her own mind and her own urges, particularly when she encounters Fub, the butcher’s boy. The sex in the novel wasn’t so much shocking as unexpected and it reveals another facet of Anne’s character. There is also a lot of blood in the novel and murder. This in London at its bawdy, gritty best. A super debut novel. The cover is pretty impressive too.

In a Dark, Dark Wood – review

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I seem to have a pile of psychological thrillers on my bedside table at the moment and this novel by Ruth Ware worked it way to the top – mainly, I think, because of a rush of weddings at the moment. So many new dresses!

Anyway – this appealed because it takes place at a hen party – and we’ve all been to them haven’t we? We’ve all been put in a group of people we don’t know awfully well, or even know at all. The only thing we all have in common is the bride.

Nora, the narrator, is at just such a hen party and she can’t even understand why she was even invited, as she lost contact with the bride years previously. The story is told in two time-lines – Nora’s perspective of the hen party and, Nora in hospital trying to remember the events that led to a death.

The novel does have some spine-tingling moments and it did keep my attention but I have read better. Friends sat that this is the new ‘Girl in a Train’. As I haven’t read that yet, I’ll reserve judgement. It is good, just not as good as I was hoping. Nora was just too gullible at times.

 

 

The Doll’s House – review

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This is the third book in the DI Helen Grace series and matches the pace of the previous two novels. It is pacy and grips you right to the last page, the short chapters make it an easy read. In this novel we learn more about Helen Grace and see the developing relationships between the fellow officers. But it is the story that is gripping.

Ruby wakes up to discover, to her horror, that she is imprisoned in a cellar but can’t recall what has happened the night before. The last thing she remembers is being in a nightclub and now she is at the mercy of her captor. At the same a time a body of another young woman is found, but her family never reported her missing because they have been getting regular texts from her

.D.I. Helen Grace knows that time is against her as she tries to discover a link between the victims and unlock the key to a predator.

This is good but, for me, it hasn’t delivered the heart-stopping moments that the first book did. Nevertheless, book 4 is already on my reading list.

Back to Bread

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A recent trip to York and a visit to a wonderful chocolate shop gave me the inspiration for a ‘new’ flavour bread. The Cocoa House in York is a place you must visit. The hot chocolates, the cakes and, in fact, every one of their dishes is a delight. The highlight was a slice of chocolate stout cake. Words can’t describe it. It was rich and sweet and gooey and bitter all in one. Amazing. All of which got me thinking about bread. I use beer regularly when I make bread, experimenting with different ales to find different flavours. I use chocolate drops when I make my strawberry and white chocolate bread. But stout and chocolate – that I had to try.

So, I bought a bottle of London Porter – rich and dark – to which I added some boiled water to provide me with the warm liquid for the dough. Then, I melted half a bar of Lindt 70% chocolate into the beer/water mix. That was the liquid to add to my flour and yeast.

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The result a chocolate-coloured loaf which had a wonderful bitterness offset by a hint of rich chocolate. I count that as a success and it will definitely be a bread that I will be making again. I have bought some Double Chocolate beer this week, so I see another experiment in the near future.

 

A God in Ruins – a review

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god in ruins

 

I am a fan of Kate Atkinson and was excited when this book was published as a companion to ‘Life After Life’. It isn’t a sequel, or a prequel – it is a book in it’s own right and it reacquaints us with the characters that we met in ‘Life After Life’.

This is Teddy’s story. We follow him from his youth, through his war to his old age, but, written as it is in Atkinson’s wonderful style,  we leap in and out of decades. We hear Teddy’s story from his own lips and from those around him which gives us different perspectives. It’s story-telling at its best, it’s life in all its shapes and sizes. I have to be very careful not to give spoilers. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry but you will not forget Teddy and his family and what they tell us. And – a second reading is just as rewarding, in fact, I think I fell in love with it even more.

The Lie Tree – a review

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Wow, have really slipped with my blog entries. I knew that I had fallen a little behind with my book reviews etc, but didn’t realise that I have not actually posted anything since March. Life catches up, I suppose, and one reason is that I am now back to full time work – in a move that is as far away from teaching as you can get. Time is now more limited and poor old Mike Malone has had to take a back seat as well. There is another book in the pipeline, but it is a long way from being completed. I’ll get there – I always do.

But back to my book review – one of many as I am 16 books behind.

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I chose this YA novel by Frances Hardinge for two reasons. One, it won the Costa Book Award and two, as an English teacher, I do enjoy dipping into YA fiction so that I can discuss/recommend reads to my pupils. Previous YA novel have featured dystopian themes so this creative tale, set in Victorian Gothic tradition was a refreshing change.

The storyline is dark and intelligent. Fourteen year old Faith wants to be a natural historian like her father, but the expectation of the 1860s for a young woman is very different. To quote from the book, ‘There was a hunger in her, and girls were not supposed to be hungry. They were supposed to nibble sparingly when at table, and their minds were supposed to be satisfied with a slim diet too. A few stale lessons from tired governesses, dull walks, unthinking pastimes. But it was not enough.’

Scandal forces her father to move the family to the island of Vane and Faith is determined to find out the truth. She is ‘helped’ by the Lie Tree which has the power to reveal hidden secrets but needs the telling of lies in order to reveal what it knows. The more people believe in the lie the more truth the tree reveals. But is the truth always good?

The story moves at a good pace, the characters are well formed and this is a story that adults will enjoy.

 

 

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