What I’ve Been Reading – February 2015

SUNDAY 1st MARCH 2015

Happy Sunday folks! We’ve just returned from a weekend away in beautiful Ambleside in the Lake District. The excuse was to celebrate my (belated) birthday as the hubby was away for my actual birthday.

Five mile walk at Elterwater certainly blew away a few cobwebs

Five mile walk at Elterwater certainly blew away a few cobwebs

However, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect for us both. After a particularly stressful week at work – hubby on call and I dealing with one of many urgent projects – getting away from it all was the breath of fresh air we needed.

And it doesn’t get much fresher than at the Lakes.

Boat trip from Ambleside to Bowness

Boat trip from Ambleside to Bowness

Recharging our batteries with the obvious indulgence in food and drink, we justified it all with a five-mile walk around Elterwater. We played our role as tourists by participating in the red cruise from Ambleside to Bowness and tapped into a more sophisticated side of us both – listening to live music at the Jazz café Zeffirellis.

I managed to squeeze some reading in yesterday morning at the lovely B&B we were staying in – Lacet House – when hubby had to make an emergency trip to Asda (something to do with forgetting a suitcase. Now that’s a different story). And since this blog is about stories, I won’t waffle on about our trip

I’ll cut to the juicy bits.

Here’s what I read in February:

Paula Daly – Keep Your Friends Close

Renee Knight – Disclaimer

James Patterson – Mary Mary

But first – let’s see where January ended …

Lee Child One ShotI ended January’s reading list half way through Lee Child’s One Shot. I finished this book early into February and I can confirm that I was pleasantly surprised. It all comes together in the last 100 pages where the pace really picks up and my heart was in my mouth, I couldn’t put it down. The slow start was worth persevering with as the action toward the end of the novel more than makes up for it. A clever concept.

 

Paula Daly – Keep Your Friends Close

SynopsisKeep Your friends close

Your best friend isn’t who you think she is.

You’ve been friends since university, when you became the people you are today.

You don’t see each other enough but when you do it’s as if you’ve never been apart.

She’s one of the family. You would trust her with your life, your children, your husband.

And when your daughter is rushed to hospital, you’re grateful that she’s stepping in at home, looking after things.

But your best friend isn’t who you think she is. You’re about to find out just how wrong you were.

Thoughts:

A Psychological thriller that’s wickedly clever. You can’t help but fall in love with Natty’s control freak nature as she’s like many of us – striving for perfection, to have it all; the husband, the children, the business. But when her daughter takes ill and she rushes to France to be by her side, we see Eve, her friend from college, prey on her weakness – her absence from her already neglected husband.

We’re so wrapped up in Natty making sure that her daughter’s alright that when we get to Eve and Sean’s antics, we’re devastated. Daly builds up the tension from start to finish, with the sexual tension between Eve and Sean, to the volatile feeling Natty has towards them and the effect this has on her daughters. We follow this tension to an intense finale.

There are underlying stories from other characters such as Natty’s father. We also see the return of Detective Constable Joanne Aspinall, who appeared in Just What Kind Of Mother Are You?

Daly has again written a page-turner and Eve is a character that you love to hate. The character’s are realistic and the emotions that they experience, particular Natty, you feel with them.  Daly builds up the frustration and anger wonderfully and there’s a scene where she has no means to pay for petrol. It’s a small, but significant scene. A point where we could all relate to the circumstance in one way or another and in this story, it’s like the straw that broke the camels back. Something minor in the grand scheme of things but tips you over the edge.

We’ve all been there in some way shape or form.

I was lucky enough to host Paula Daly last month on my Cuppa and a Catch Up feature. You can read the full interview here.

Renee Knight – Disclaimer

Disclaimer Synopsis

When an intriguing novel appears on Catherine’s bedside table, she curls up in bed and begins to read.

But as she turns the pages she is sickened to realize the story will reveal her darkest secret.

A secret she thought no one else knew…

Thoughts:

This is a debut thriller from Renee Knight and she’s joined Paula Daly in my shout-through-the-rooftops love for books that I can’t recommend enough.

The snappy synopsis is short but once those three lines were cast, they hooked themselves into my mind from the moment I read them.

What an interesting concept – a story within a story. I was intrigued as to where this novel would take me.

Catherine Ravenscroft has the perfect life; a successful career, a doting husband and a grown-up son who is finding his independence in the world. After moving house, things are just about settling down and, like many of us, she picks up a book for a bit of escapism.

However, the book (The Perfect Stranger) does not provide the kind of escapism Catherine is after.disclaimer 3

The structure of Disclaimer works wonderfully; the chapter’s flit between the present and the past, following both Catherine and the author of the book she’s reading. Disclaimer is written in such a way that you become attached to both character’s at different stages throughout the story, the words leading you into changing your loyalties. I found my perspective of Catherine changing and I was horrified to find myself feeling like that. It made me want to read on – to challenge why the author of the book she was reading had written it. And if it indeed was true.

And this is where Renee Knight has you gripped.

Disclaimer has an undercurrent of suspense throughout the novel leading to a very tense finale. My heart raced as  I stayed in bed for an emotional two hours on a Saturday morning, the household chores and plans for the morning completely cast aside as I simply had to read on, to find out if the ending of Disclaimer married up with the ending of The Perfect Stranger.

That’s an outcome which you will just have to establish yourself.

I don’t think you’ll be disappointed, I certainly wasn’t.

I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book from Transworld Publishers. Disclaimer is released on the 9th April 2015

James Patterson – Mary, Mary

Mary MarySynopsis

This is the eleventh book in the Alex Cross series

Somebody is intent on murdering Hollywood’s A-list. A well-known actress has been shot outside her Beverly Hills home. Shortly afterwards, the Los Angeles Times receives an email describing the murder in vivid detail. It is signed Mary Smith. More killings and emails follow – the victims are all major Hollywood players. Is it the work of an obsessed fan or a spurned actor, or is it part of something far more terrifying? As the case grows to blockbuster proportions, Washington, DC, FBI agent Alex Cross and the LAPD scramble to find a pattern before Mary can send another chilling update. Filled with the ruthless and shocking twists that make his fans hunger for more, MARY, MARY is James Patterson’s most sophisticated thriller yet.

 

 

Thoughts:

My love affair of James Patterson’s novels continues in the form of Mary, Mary.Mary Mary 2

Written in his usual short chapter structure, with the last sentence always begging you to turn to the next chapter, Mr Patterson tells us the story of a murderer going by the name of Mary Smith.

Mary Smith is an arrogant killer that leaves no trace, creating their own story by murdering Hollywood A-lister’s and taunting the FBI and LAPD by sharing the details with the press.

Mary, Mary is a typical James Patterson page turner and has all the right ingredients for a crime thriller, right through to a decent and satisfying ending. I did enjoy this book and it had me hooked, but the concept of the storyline wasn’t up there with some of the books that I’ve read recently.

 

Spring has sprung and I can’t wait to see what books March has to bring …

Love Missuswolf xxx

 

 

 

 

Cuppa and a Catch-Up – An Author Interview with … Paula Daly

WEDNESDAY 11th FEBRUARY 2015

Cuppa and a Catch up pic

 



In my last blog post What I’ve been reading – January 2015 I briefly touched upon a book that I fell head over heels in love with.

That book was Just What Kind Of Mother Are You? by Paula Daly.

Well, I’m utterly delighted and honoured that she’s agreed to feature on my blog today! I finished her second book Keep Your Friends Close last night and it didn’t disappoint! But first of all, let’s find out a little bit more about Paula Daly …

Paula Daly pic

 

~Author Bio~

Paula Daly was born in Lancashire. She was a self-employed physiotherapist before beginning her first novel JUST WHAT KIND OF MOTHER ARE YOU? Her second novel KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE was shortlisted for the 2014 CWA Goldsboro Gold Dagger Award and her work has been translated into fourteen languages. She lives in the Lake District with her husband, three children and whippet Skippy. You can find her on twitter: @pauladalyauthor and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Paula-Daly/490968164379299

 

 

 

~Synopsis – Just what kind of mother are you ~just what kind of mother

No family is perfect.

A husband, three children and a full-time job, so many plates to keep spinning.

No wonder you forgot you were supposed to be looking after your friend’s daughter.

But no one has seen her since yesterday.

And she’s not the first to go missing from your small town.

So who’s hiding something?

~Thoughts~

There are few books in our journey as readers that burrow beneath our soul and remain with us for life.

This is one of them.

The Hunger Games and The Collective Works of A.J Fikry have now been joined by Just What Kind of Mother Are You? in a little bookcase in my head and in my heart.

The reality of this book is stark. We all lead busy lives, juggling work commitments with family and, like Lisa, we’re desperately trying to keep those plates spinning. But what happens when one of those plates falls? That plate of responsibility for caring for another’s daughter – that’s now missing? You can only begin to imagine that kind of predicament. Paula Daly brings this to life – her words get into your head and make you think, they make you consider that in times where we overstretch and over-exert ourselves, that this could potentially happen – this could happen to me.

This book is the definition of a page-turner, I picked it up on the Saturday and finished it on the Monday. It was a constant case of ‘just one more chapter.’

The character’s are realistic, Daly has you engrossed with their lives and gripped as to what becomes of them. I laughed and cried with them. Her dialogue stirs up emotion and you’re desperate to find out what’s happened to the missing girl.

But I won’t spoil it.

You’ll have to read it for yourself.

KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE~Synopsis – Keep Your Friends Close~

Natty and Sean Wainwright are happily married. Rock solid in fact. So when Natty’s oldest friend, Eve Dalladay, appears – just as their daughter collapses on a school trip in France – Natty has no qualms about leaving Eve with Sean to help out at home.

Two weeks later and Natty finds Eve has slotted into family life too well. Natty’s husband has fallen in love with Eve. He’s sorry, he tells her, but their marriage is over.

With no option but to put a brave face on things for the sake of the children, Natty embarks on building a new life for herself.

And then she receives the note.

Eve has done this before, more than once, and with fatal consequences…

~Thoughts~

A Pyschological thriller that’s wickedly clever. You can’t help but fall in love with Natty’s control freak nature as she’s like many of us – striving for perfection, to have it all; the husband, the children, the business. But when her daughter takes ill and she rushes to France to be by her side, we see Eve, her friend from college, prey on her weakness – her absence from her already neglected husband.

We’re so wrapped up in Natty making sure that her daughter’s alright that when we get to Eve and Sean’s antics, we’re devastated. Daly builds up the tension from start to finish, with the sexual tension between Eve and Sean, to the volatile feeling Natty has towards them and the effect this has on her daughters. We follow this tension to an intense finale.

There are underlying stories from other characters such as Natty’s father. We also see the return of Detective Constable Joanne Aspinall, who appeared in Just What Kind Of Mother Are You?

Daly has again written a page-turner and Eve is a character that you love to hate. The character’s are realistic and the emotions that they experience, particular Natty, you feel with them.  Daly builds up the frustration and anger wonderfully and there’s a scene where she has no means to pay for petrol. It’s a small, but significant scene. A point where we could all relate to the circumstance in one way or another and in this story, it’s like the straw that broke the camels back. Something minor in the grand scheme of things but tips you over the edge.

We’ve all been there in some way shape or form.

Now to get cosy with that cuppa as we chat to the lovely Paula Daly …

Hi Paula and welcome here today.

Firstly, here did the inspiration behind Just What Kind Of Mother Are You come from?Paula Daly Just What

This book came about directly from an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Overwhelmed, working mother of two, Brenda Slaby, forgets to drop her baby at the babysitter’s, and poor Cecelia dies as a result of heatstroke in the hot August sun.

I was heartbroken by this poor woman’s story, and as I watched, I thought: That could have been me. I, too, was once so overstretched with full time work and children that I could have made a similar mistake.

The more I thought about this awful turn of events, the more I wanted to write about it. But I write thrillers, I could not do Brenda’s story justice. And so it wasn’t until I met a particularly difficult woman, a woman who is in the habit of making a person feel bad about their life, that the story popped into my head. Because I thought: What if you lost her child? What if you were so busy, that you took your eye off the ball, and her child went missing?

This terrified me.

How would you compare writing this book with Keep Your Friends Close?

It differed in two ways. Firstly, Just What Kind of Mother Are You? was much faster to write. I completed it in four months because there was nothing else I needed to attend to – such as interviews, contracts, and all the day to day stuff that occupies an author. Secondly, even though a mystery is harder to construct – making sure all pieces of the jigsaw fit together – it’s actually easier to write than a thriller. Because you don’t have to worry so much about keeping the tension going and holding the reader’s interest. If a child is missing the reader wants to find out what’s happened to that child. This tension is much harder to sustain in a thriller. Which Keep Your Friends Close is.

How do you manage your writing time?

I get the children off to school, put the washing machine on, walk the dog, and then start writing. I aim to write 800 – 1000 words before lunch and I generally don’t switch the Wi-Fi back on until I’m done. I have to be really strict about this as I know after one-thirty P.M. I’m pretty much brain dead. So I don’t answer the phone unless it’s one of the kids calling in distress or some other emergency.

How did you start writing? Was there a particular book or moment in your life that spurred you on?

I'm about halfway through this - very insightful and useful

I’m about halfway through this – very insightful and useful

I read Stephen King’s book – ‘On Writing’. King encourages you to just start writing and to see what comes out. I began as soon as I finished the book and was surprised to find I didn’t want to stop. I found writing thrilling and knew immediately I wanted to try to make a career out of it if possible.

Where is your best ‘writing space’; the place where you feel comfortably locked away from the world and able to let your creative juices flow?

I write in my bedroom overlooking Lake Windermere (although I have to pull the curtain across a little to shade the laptop screen). When I’m stuck I stare out the window and when I’m tired I have a sneaky nap. It is the BEST job.

And finally, tell us an interesting fact about yourself that not many people know

I used to clean a brothel.

Thank you for being here today Paula.

You can grab both Paula Daly’s books on Amazon now. Go on – lose yourself for a few days in someone else’s shoes.

I promise you it’ll be worth it.

Love Missuswolf xxx

Please note this post contains affiliate links

ARC

What I’ve Been Reading – January 2015

FRIDAY 30th JANUARY 2015

Happy Friday folks!

I’ve managed to take a break from the day job today (I’ve had to wait in for someone from Sky) so it’s meant that I’ve spent all day reading and writing – yey!

This month, I’ve tried to read a bit more than just a couple of chapter’s a night. So instead of watching the TV, I’ve had my head in a book.

January’s reading list has consisted of the following books:

Stephen Booth – Dying To Sin

Paula Daly – Just What Kind Of Mother Are You?

Lee Child – One Shot

Stephen Booth – Dying to SinDying to Sin

Synopsis

For decades, Pity Wood Farm has been a source of employment for poor workers passing through Rakedale, migrants with lives as abject as the labour they sought. But now it seems a worse fate may have befallen some of those who came upon this isolated community.

Routine building work at the farm has unearthed a grisly discovery: a human hand preserved in clay. When police dig up the farmyard, they find not one, but two bodies – and several years between their burials.

With pressure from a new superintendent and scant forensic evidence to aid them, DS Fry and DC Cooper have only the memories of local people to piece together the tragic history of the farm. 

In a case as cold as the ground, Cooper finds himself drawn to a desperate theory: that somewhere, there lies a third body which holds the key to these dreadful crimes.

Thoughts:

I’ve read a Stephen Booth book before – back in October 2011 –  Scared To Live (read blog post here). I’m a scatty reader when it comes to his and James Patterson books. I never seem to read them in the right order in the series. But that’s the beauty of writers like these – they write in such a way that you can just pick up – say book eight – and off you go. No real need to have read the previous book in the series. You get the gist.

For me, Dying To Sin is not one of the fastest paced novels I’ve read – but it’s not the slowest. I know that’s a vague description but that’s how I felt about it – vague. I like Stephen Booth’s style of writing – I really did feel like I was out in the Peak District, shivering with Fry and Cooper as they try to piece together what’s happened. I was a bit slower reading this – I spent most of January with Dying To Sin. It had a slow start and I felt the story went on quite a bit, as if I was waiting for something to happen. But I persevered as I’ve experienced this before with James Patterson’s Beach Road. I didn’t connect with that book to start with and I had similar feelings with Dying To Sin. However, I learnt to always give books the benefit of the doubt – and the last 100 pages of Dying To Sin did pick up pace and did leave me satisfied. But it’s not one of my favourites.

Paula Daly – Just What Kind Of A Mother Are YouPaula Daly Just What

Synopsis

Your friend’s child is missing. It’s your fault.

No family is perfect.

A husband, three children and a full-time job, so many plates to keep spinning.

No wonder you forgot you were supposed to be looking after your friend’s daughter.

But no one has seen her since yesterday.

And she’s not the first to go missing from your small town.

So who’s hiding something?

Thoughts:

I LOVED this book! Unfortunately you will have to wait until next month to hear more about it as Paula Daly has kindly agreed to take part in ‘Cuppa and a Catch-Up’ (thanks Paula!) But all I can say is that this book is on par with when I read The Hunger Games. A real page-turner – I didn’t want to put this one down and it really was a case of ‘just one more chapter’. I started it Saturday and finished it Monday. It’s gripping and it gets inside your head as you think ‘oh god, it could potentially happen.’ I’m not a mother so I can only begin to imagine what it would feel like. But the author brought that all to life for me. I laughed and I cried at this book. I’ve got her next one lined up Keep Your Friends Close (thanks Tammy Exton – check out her blog here).

Lee Child One ShotLee Child – One Shot

Synopsis

Six shots. Five dead.

A heartland city thrown into terror. But within hours the cops have it solved. A slam-dunk case. Apart from one thing. The accused gunman refuses to talk except for a single phrase:

Get Jack Reacher for me.

Reacher lives off the grid. He’s not looking for trouble. But sometimes trouble looks for him. What could connect the ex-military cop to this psychopathic killer?

 

Thoughts:

I’m 198 pages into this book at the moment. I loved the last Lee Child book that I read (Worth Dying For) so when I inherited this book from the Harvey’s, it was a must. Although it’s not as good as Worth Dying For which I couldn’t put down. One Shot I’m not so fussed about. It does have me hooked as to how the story is going to pan out. Lee Child’s style of writing is fast-paced and very visual. A lot happens at the start of the book and he brings this to life very well. Of course, all is not as it seems and Jack Reacher gets called in. That’s when the real mystery starts to unravel. Again I’ll persevere with this one as I may be pleasantly surprised. I think it’s had a hard act to follow when I’ve fallen so deeply in love with Paula Daly’s novel.

On that note, I’ll go and read a couple more pages …

Love Missuswolf xxx