Sunday, 30 April 2017

Five of my top ten reads continued...6-10

Hello and welcome to another Bookshelf Sunday, for now posts will be every other Sunday evening.  Today I'm sharing the next 5 of my top ten reads.  For anyone who missed my other post, explaining the first five of my choices you can catch up here, it was originally posted on what is now my dedicated craft blog but this link takes you straight to the post.

No. 6 
Photo courtesy of Goodreads website

Midnight is a Lonely Place by Barbara Erskine
Biographer Kate Kennedy retires to a remote cottage after a broken love affair but when a Roman burial site is uncovered, Kate finds herself unsettled by un-buried passions, unleashed ghosts and unexplained forces.

The only book that has every terrified the life out of me - truly!  I am not an easily scared or spooked person, I love to watch scary movies, sometimes late at night and on my own, and very rarely jump at the 'boo' moments.  This book had me hiding my head under the covers at night every time I heard a noise, and had me screaming and jumping if anyone surprised me whilst I reading it.  I'm not kidding when I say it took me a month to recover!  Barbara Erskine has a huge talent for bringing her stories to life and for scaring her readers.  I don't know anyone that has read this and not been terrified - that's sounds like a strong word but this novel is just plain creepy and damn right chilling.  I dare you to read if you haven't already!  I also loved it because it is set on the Essex coast and living in Suffolk I could identify with the location.  Here is a rough guide to the plot without giving too much away; 

No. 7

Photo courtesy of Goodreads website
Lace by Shirley Conran
Summoned to a New York apartment, four women are asked which one of them is the mother of the host.  Secrets are discovered and hidden depths surface.

Forget 50 Shades of Grey, Lace is the original bonkbuster!  I don't think I was anywhere near my sixteenth birthday when I read this but thankfully my parents a fairly opened-minded which is why I'm such a well-rounded individual, no seriously I am! 😉  I haven't read 50 Shades (or seen the film) so can't compare the two but Lace was first published in 1982 so it will probably seem dated, and made be tame in comparison.    I have no desire to read 50 Shades, quite possibly the hype as put me off, but perhaps I shall revisit Lace and then read 50 Shades as a comparison but then the world is so full of so many books I want to read ...

No. 8

Photo courtesy of Goodreads website
Thornyhold by Mary Stewart
As a child Gellis has a lonely childhood, broken only by brief visits to her godmother, a herbalist and may-be white witch.  When her godmother dies Gellis inherits her house as well as her reputation.

Thornyhold was the first Mary Stewart novel I read and I found it to be beautiful.  A subtle story of romance and mystery driven by it's location and a hint of magic.   For me, this book was a lovely comforting form of escape.  There is something wonderfully nostalgic and gentle about Thornyhold, so don't let the magical element put you off it's that not normally your sort of thing.

No. 9

Photo courtesy of Goodreads

Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis
It's 1940 and four siblings are evacuated from London, the youngest discovers a magic portal to another world.

I have read this more than once and each time the magic never fails to surprise me.  As a child I couldn't think of many more exciting things than stepping into a wardrobe and finding yourself in a magical realm where animals speak and your mission is to save a land from the White Witch.  I think this book delivers all the things a child could want from a magical land, of course it has been made for the big screen a few times but there is something so much more bewitching about the book.  Although the films have been fantastic, the Narnia inside my head is so much bigger and there are so many more possibilities.  For me personally this book is about the quest or the fight between good and evil it's about personalities and courage and bravery.  Narnia brings out the very worst and the very best in both it's inhabitants and it's visitors.   It's never too late to read this wonderful novel, age and gender are no barrier, it really is a timeless classic and an extraodinary story. 

No. 10

Photo courtesy of Goodreads website

The Diary of Young Girl (Anne Frank) 
Writings from a girl in hiding with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.

This, put simply, is an amazing record of a young girl's life at one of the most difficult times in history.  I feel that Anne writes with a clarity that belies her age.  I'm not sure I would have been so eloquent at 13 but then my world was somewhat more relaxed compare to Anne's!  This book does receive mixed reviews, which is not surprising as review are mostly based on opinion, a book should never be classed as brilliant by all just because it's records a well-known historic event and has been translated into over 60 languages.  However, I do think it makes it worth reading as a true insight in to one family's struggle during WWII.  I think it is quite impossible to imagine being locked up for years and to experience and witness the suffering and abuse of so many people.   

So, do you have any favourites from my list?  Do any of these feature in your top ten?  I would love to hear your thoughts so please leave a comment below. 

Bookworm Blessings.  x

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Audio Books - To listen or not too listen?

Good Evening Readers

Today I want to ask you a question, do you listen to audio books?

It's one of my favourite past times, firstly because I love people reading aloud to me.  It takes me back to my childhood, especially summer holidays where I would get through countless books, ones I had read myself and ones read to me by my parents.  I have very clear memories of my mum reading The Silver Sword by Ian Serriallier to me.  I was completely blown away by this story, it was like nothing else I had ever heard and just seeing it on a shelf now takes me back to my childhood.

Mum would also re-tell true ghost stories, well I guess they are only true if you believe in ghosts, which I did and do.  My best friend and I would hang on her every word and mum was very patient as we wanted to know all the little details and would implore her to tell them time and time again. I was big fan of the Secret Seven and Famous Five and loved to read them myself but there was something magical about mum reading them to me.

Dad would sometimes read me a bedtime story, two of which I remember very clearly, one about children solving a crime and another about a pirate island and ghosts, the titles of which have long since left my memory but a taste for ghosts, crime novels and the macabre has stayed with me.

I first started listening to audio books as a child, long car journeys to holiday destinations were passed with a storybook tape, a firm favourite with everyone was Milly-Molly-Mandy!  Actually that isn't quite true, as dad suffered it so many times he knew all the stories off by heart and would often try to tell a different version.  A gift one year was a portable cassette player and I was just over the moon, and so was dad as he could now listen to 60s music and not the twentieth re-telling of "Milly-Molly-Mandy and Little Friend Susan Keep House".  Not a very policitally correct story nowadays but perhaps that's a discuss for another post.  My tapes were played until they wore out, not to mention the batteries it would eat through.

Another reason I enjoy audio books is it's easy to do something else at the same time such as; housework, cooking, traveling, walking the dog, stitching, knitting, crafting, colouring - there is a long list of possibilities.  My butterfly nature is so happy when it can listen to a story whilst working my way through a pile of ironing or other chore.  Instead of diligently ironing creases out of yet another shirt, I can be enjoying the company of a tall, dark & handsome stranger, solving the murder of a wealthy landowner, or traveling back in time.  Listening to a story is just as good as reading it yourself, and just as absorbing.

Most of my audio books are borrowed from the library, bought second hand from ebay or bootsales or in shop sales.  If I buy them I usually pass them on to mum to listen to and sometimes my sister and grandmother also listen and then we give them to the MacMillan Ward at my local hospital.  I think story telling can offer great comfort, sometimes it's easier to lose yourself whilst listening to someone's voice whereas if you feel down or unwell it can sometimes be difficult to concentrate on reading, often repeating the same line as your mind is distracted.  Audio books are also a great resource for those suffering with sight problems.  I truly believe that everyone should be able to enjoy the art of a good story.

For the last three years I have joined in with the Audio Book Challenge on Goodreads.  It's a fun social group that have a passion for audio books and enjoy challenging themselves both individually and as group. It's a great place to get recommendations too.

Audio books and "real" books both stimulate the imagination and add to our vocabulary.  So, do you listen to audio books?  When is your favourite time to listen?  What else might you do when you're listening?  Do you have a favourite audio book reader/narrator?  Or is there a particular author whose books you enjoying listening to instead of/or as well as reading? If you don't listen, do you think might be converted to give it a try?  Do let me know in the comments below.

Bookworm blessings.  x

All images are in the public domain. 

Sunday, 2 April 2017

March Book Review: Quick Reads, Dead Simple

Greetings bloggers, friends and visitors!

Today I'm sharing another book review, Dead Simple is one of this year's new Quick Reads releases. I don't want to bore anyone with details of the reason behind Quick Reads but if you are interested you can find info in a previous post here.

This particular Quick Reads is a collection of 8 short crime stories.

The first story Hardscrabble is by Mark Billingham, one of my favourite authors.  This story has a great twist in the tale and I didn't see it coming until quite close to the end.  Definitely my favourite in the collection.

Clare Mackintosh writes The Funeral but it's quite clear that our grieving widow is not all she seems and this one has a great twist in the end.  Another of my favourites from this selection.

Next is Dead Men Tell No Tales by James Oswald.  I felt slightly cheated by this tale as it leaves a lot of unanswered questions, also it felt like more like a ghost story.

Tale 4, Tricks by Jane Casey, is a cleverly written story and has more than one twist which is quite a feat in a short story, it pits the wits of two generations with bad intentions.

Tell No Lies by Angela Marsons was a let down for me and was my least favourite, I saw the twist after just a few lines.

The Perfect Murder by Harry Bingham is a twisted tale of revenge and a "Bucket List", and raises that common question Can anyone commit the "Perfect Murder"?

In, The Night Before the Hanging by Antonia Hodgson a murderer is just coming to terms with his last day on earth and making peace with his god when a stranger tells him he is innocent, the man is relieved, but it doesn't end there!

C L Taylor writes A Bird In A Cage, a story of how one woman's release from prison gives her an unexpected opportunity for revenge.

This is another Quick Reads book I thoroughly enjoyed and as it is a collection of short
stories it's easy to set yourself a goal of say one story a day. This was book 4 of my goal of 15 books for this year.

Until next time Bookworm Blessings! x

I will be back on Monday over on the Craft Blog.