It has been a while.

There has been too much sport on television recently and it has played havoc with my normal routine.  The Tour de France meant I was getting to bed at unseemly hours and that was then followed by the Cricket World Cup, followed by The Ashes so the usual day activities have come to a shuddering halt.

The Ashes are still happening as only two tests have been played and there are three still to play but I am trying to get some semblance of order into my day.  It hasn’t helped that the weather has been miserable here and tempts one to stay in bed rather than get up in the morning.

Back to posting what I have been doing recently, other than spending far too much time watching television.

I will start with some of my reading during July. I did manage to get quite a few books read as the weather was not suitable for gardening.

Career of Evil by Robert GalbraithThis was the third novel in the Strike series and it was just as exciting as the other books in the series.  It didn’t really matter that this one was read out of order as they read well as stand-alone novels. I have mentioned the other novels in a previous post.

Watching You by Lisa JewellThis was a psychological thriller and I have found a new author that I thoroughly enjoy.  You will see that I have read a second book of hers this month and will be on the lookout for more.

“. . . .a suspenseful page-turner about a shocking murder in a picturesque and well-to-do English town, perfect for fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train

You’re back home after four years working abroad, new husband in tow. You’re keen to find a place of your own. But for now, you’re crashing in your big brother’s spare room.

That’s when you meet the man next door. He’s the head teacher at the local school. Twice your age. Extraordinarily attractive.  You find yourself watching him. All the time. But you never dreamed that your innocent crush might become a deadly obsession.  Or that someone is watching you.

In Lisa Jewell’s latest bone-chilling suspense, no one is who they seem—and everyone has something to hide.”

Dead I Well May Be by Adrian McKintyI came across the author as recommended by Ian Rankin, I think, but I am glad I took note as I enjoyed this book even though it is not one I would normally take from the shelf as it sounded as though it was about gang warfare in America.

This is a brutal story of gangland warfare, lust, betrayal and bloody retribution.   The engaging anti-hero has few redeeming qualities other than his native Irish wit and the will to survive.
This is “Gangs of New York” for the nineties.

“This Irish bad-boy thriller — set in the hardest streets of New York City — brims with violence, greed, and sexual betrayal.”I didn’t want to go to America, I didn’t want to work for Darkey White. I had my reasons. But I went.”

“So admits Michael Forsythe, an illegal immigrant escaping the Troubles in Belfast. But young Michael is strong and fearless and clever — just the fellow to be tapped by Darkey, a crime boss, to join a gang of Irish thugs struggling against the rising Dominican powers in Harlem and the Bronx. The time is pre-Giuliani New York, when crack rules the city, squatters live furtively in ruined buildings, and hundreds are murdered each month. Michael and his lads tumble through the streets, shaking down victims, drinking hard, and fighting for turf, block by bloody block.”

A gritty read.

 

More June reads

Much of my reading is crime fiction and Stuart MacBride is one of my favourite authors.  I tend to read quite a bit by Scottish authors.

A Song for the Dying is another novel in the Oldcastle series.

“He’s back …

Eight years ago, ‘The Inside Man’ murdered four women and left three more in critical condition – all of them with their stomachs slit open and a plastic doll stitched inside.

And then the killer just … disappeared.

Ash Henderson was a Detective Inspector on the initial investigation, but a lot can change in eight years. His family has been destroyed, his career is in tatters, and one of Oldcastle’s most vicious criminals is making sure he spends the rest of his life in prison.

Now a nurse has turned up dead on a patch of waste ground, a plastic doll buried beneath her skin, and it looks as if Ash might finally get a shot at redemption. At earning his freedom.

At revenge.”

Bye Bye Baby by Fiona McIntosh is one that I borrowed from the library.I have read many Fiona McIntosh novels but none of those has been crime fiction, perhaps The Pearl Thief could be classified as such but none of the others.

“It all began in Brighton. Now there is a killer on the loose. Scotland Yard′s brightest talent is chosen to head up the high-profile taskforce, a DCI who must confront his own past as the body count rises.

There are few leads and Jack Hawksworth can only fall back on instinct and decades-old cold cases for any clue to the killer′s motive … and identity.

With his most loyal team member threatening to betray him, a Chief Inspector pushing for results, a hungry British media clamouring for information, and a restless public eager for a conviction, the high-pressure operation can only end in a final shocking confrontation …

A searing story of brutal revenge.”

I loved this book and devoured it in one sitting. I couldn’t wait to read the first book,

so went out and bought it.  It didn’t disappoint.  I loved it too.  Apparently these books were originally published under the pseudonym of Lauren Crow, in 2007. They have now been re released under her own name and as there are so many followers of Fiona McIntosh’s books I am sure these will do equally as well.

“A calculating killer, who ′trophies′ the faces of his victims, is targeting Londoners.

Under enormous pressure from politicians and the public, DCI Jack Hawksworth and his team begin their investigation, which takes them into the murky world of human organ trading.

But when the murderer strikes closer to home than Jack could ever have imagined possible, the case becomes a personal crusade – and a race against time. Can the killer be brought to justice before Jack is removed from the operation?

From London′s backstreets to the dangerous frontiers of medicine, BEAUTIFUL DEATH will keep you reading late into the night.”

This is a fast paced read, perhaps a bit bloodthirsty for some.

I didn’t know this.

I must have been living under a rock as I was unaware that J.K.Rowling was the author Robert Galbraith.

I had borrowed Lethal White from the library and had started to read it when a friend told me that she had the first three books in the series.  I had been reading thinking it was a stand alone book, which indeed it could be.  Nevertheless I stopped reading it and borrowed two of the first books from my friend and the books are The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm.

The Cuckoo’s Calling was perfect as it introduced the characters of the book I had started to read and it futher expanded on what I had read in Lethal White.  I quickly read both of these books and couldn’t wait to borrow the third but in the meantime I continued reading Lethal White.

Cuckoo’s Calling

“When a troubled model falls to her death from a snow-covered Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts, and calls in private investigator Cormoran Strike to look into the case.

Strike is a war veteran – wounded both physically and psychologically – and his life is in disarray. The case gives him a financial lifeline, but it comes at a personal cost: the more he delves into the young model’s complex world, the darker things get – and the closer he gets to terrible danger . . .

A gripping, elegant mystery steeped in the atmosphere of London – from the hushed streets of Mayfair to the backstreet pubs of the East End to the bustle of Soho.”

The Silkworm

“A compulsively readable crime novel with twists at every turn, The Silkworm is the second in the highly acclaimed series featuring Cormoran Strike and his determined young assistant Robin Ellacott.

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days – as he has done before – and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realises. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives – so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him.

And when Quine is found brutally murdered in bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any he has encountered before…”

The books are now a TV series and you can view trailer for the series at the following link.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4276618/

 

Two of my June reads, too much cricket.

June has meant that I have been spending a great deal of time watching the World Cup Cricket so my reading has taken a back seat.  I have still managed to read a few books.

Another library book but one I wished I had bought as it would have been good to be able to pass it on to my reading group.

If you had to pick five people to sum up your life, who would they be? If you were to raise a glass to each of them, what would you say? And what would you learn about yourself, when all is said and done?

“‘I’m here to remember – all that I have been and all that I will never be again.’

At the bar of a grand hotel in a small Irish town sits 84-year-old Maurice Hannigan. He’s alone, as usual -though tonight is anything but. Pull up a stool and charge your glass, because Maurice is finally ready to tell his story.

Over the course of this evening, he will raise five toasts to the five people who have meant the most to him. Through these stories – of unspoken joy and regret, a secret tragedy kept hidden, a fierce love that never found its voice – the life of one man will be powerfully and poignantly laid bare.”

Nothing more to say.  A truly wonderful book, particularly for those of us in our senior years.

This book was lent to me from one of my book group friends.  It is what I would call a joyous book even though it is set in a harrowing time and place.

“In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.”

After finishing the book I thought it would make a wonderful movie, apparently others thought so too.

Period drama news and reviews, from the website Willow and Thatch, well worth a read of this article on A Gentleman in Moscow.

And a finish with this nifty little video.

The last of my May reads

These are two non-fiction reads this month.  Wake up was read in a sitting and it certainly shed light on many aspects of our use of digital technology.

“Your essential guide to the biggest revolution of the past century. David Fagan was at the forefront of this revolution as he helped take one of Australia’s largest media organisations from print to digital. In Wake Up, he explores the challenges and opportunities of the digital age from his position on the front line. He chronicles the rise of social media, online shopping, the Uber and Airbnb phenomena and the upending of traditional industries. Fagan observes the big emerging trends and examines the technologies leading this change, as the arrival of robots and artificial intelligence affects the way we live, work and play. If you haven’t been paying attention, now is the time to wake up.” (Goodreads)

This is a great read and it will be interesting to see if his predictions come to pass.

Screen Schooled I borrowed as I had recently read an article where a school in Melbourne had returned to using textbooks rather than texts online.

“As two veteran teachers who have taught thousands of students, Joe Clement and Matt Miles have seen firsthand how damaging technology overuse and misuse has been to our students. Rather than becoming better problem solvers, kids look to Google to answer their questions for them. Rather than deepening students’ intellectual curiosity, educational technology is too often cumbersome and distracting, causing needless frustration and greatly extending homework time. Rather than becoming the great equalizer, electronic devices are widening the achievement gap. On a mission to educate and empower parents, Clement and Miles provide many real-world examples and cite multiple studies showing how technology use has created a wide range of cognitive and social deficits in our young people. They lift the veil on what’s really going on at school: teachers who are powerless to curb cell phone distractions; zoned-out kids who act helpless and are unfocused, unprepared, and antisocial; administrators who are too-easily swayed by the pro-tech “science” sponsored by corporate technology purveyors. They provide action steps parents can take to demand change and make a compelling case for simpler, smarter, more effective forms of teaching and learning.” (Goodreads)

This is a book, which if given to a group of parents or teachers would certainly provide lively debate.  Well worth the read.

I liked this comment from Maya on Goodreads.

“Just as dropping off a child at a library doesn’t guarantee that child will learn to read, so too does giving a child technology not guarantee that child will know how to use it appropriately.”

I suggest you go to Goodreads and read the reviews there if you are unsure if it is a book you need to read, particularly if you have school aged children.

I have also just finished A Gentleman in Moscow, apparently a mega bestseller about to be made into a tv series.  I gave it five stars so it was definitely one I loved but I will write about it in my June reads.

Four more to add to my challenge

The Return of the Dancing Master is another crime fiction – I just can’t keep away from crime fiction.

“When retired policeman Herbert Molin is found brutally slaughtered on his remote farm in the northern forests of Sweden, police find strange tracks in the snow — as if someone had been practicing the tango. Stefan Lindman, a young police officer recently diagnosed with mouth cancer, decides to investigate the murder of his former colleague, but is soon enmeshed in a mystifying case with no witnesses and no apparent motives. Terrified of the disease that could take his life, Lindman becomes more and more reckless as he unearths the chilling links between Molin’s death and an underground neo-Nazi network that runs further and deeper than he could ever have imagined.”

This was a riveting read. Set in the wilds of Sweden the gloom of the weather sets the tone.

Another crime fiction, this time by a Scottish author. I have read many Stuart MacBride books and none has disappointed me.

“Beware of the dark…Welcome to the Misfit Mob – where Police Scotland dumps the officers it can’t get rid of, but wants to. Officers like DC Callum MacGregor, lumbered with all the boring go-nowhere cases. So when an ancient mummy is found at the Oldcastle tip, it’s his job to track down its owner.But then Callum uncovers links between his mummified corpse and three missing young men, and life starts to get a lot more interesting.No one expects the Misfit Mob to solve anything, but right now they’re all that stands between a killer’s victims and a slow lingering death. Can they prove everyone wrong before someone else dies?”
This MacBride novel is a stand alone novel therefore no links to his previous characters.  It was a great read. 

This Tim Winton novel is only a short read but completely compelling.  His descriptive writing of the Australian bush is exquisite.

“In The Shepherd’s Hut, Winton crafts the story of Jaxie Clackton, a brutalized rural youth who flees from the scene of his father’s violent death and strikes out for the vast wilds of Western Australia. All he carries with him is a rifle and a waterjug. All he wants is peace and freedom. But surviving in the harsh saltlands alone is a savage business. And once he discovers he’s not alone out there, all Jaxie’s plans go awry. He meets a fellow exile, the ruined priest Fintan MacGillis, a man he’s never certain he can trust, but on whom his life will soon depend.

The Shepherd’s Hut is a thrilling tale of unlikely friendship and yearning, at once brutal and lyrical, from one of our finest storytellers.” (Goodreads)

The Silent Patient was a psychological thriller.

“ALICIA
Alicia Berenson writes a diary as a release, an outlet – and to prove to her beloved husband that everything is fine. She can’t bear the thought of worrying Gabriel, or causing him pain.

Until, late one evening, Alicia shoots Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word.

THEO
Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought.

And if she speaks, would he want to hear the truth?” (Goodreads)

I don’t usually read psychological thrillers but this was certainly worth reading. A twisted tale.