This Week in Books (April 24)

Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

Children are dying on London’s streets. Frankie Reece, stabbed through the heart, outside a corner shop. Others recruited from care homes, picked up and exploited; passed like gifts between gangs. They are London’s lost. 

Then Raphaela Belsham is killed. She’s thirteen years old, her father is a man of influence, from a smart part of town. And she’s white. Suddenly, the establishment is taking notice.

DS Noah Jake is determined to handle Raphaela’s case and Frankie’s too. But he’s facing his own turmoil, and it’s becoming an obsession. DI Marnie Rome is worried, and she needs Noah on side. Because more children are disappearing, more are being killed by the day and the swelling tide of violence needs to be stemmed before it’s too late.

[My review won’t be posted until May 13th on the blog tour but here’s a clue : WOW!!!!]

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

Rejected by her family and plagued by insomnia, Rose Shaw is on the brink. But one dark evening she collides with a man running through the streets, who quickly vanishes. The only sign he ever existed – a journal dropped at Rose’s feet.

She begins to obsessively dedicate her sleepless nights to discovering what happened to Finn Matthews, the mysterious author of the journal. Why was he convinced someone wanted to kill him? And why, in the midst of a string of murders, won’t the police investigate his disappearance?

Rose is determined to uncover the truth. But she has no idea what the truth will cost her…

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

Harry Probert-Lloyd, a young barrister forced home from London by encroaching blindness, has begun work as the acting coroner of Teifi Valley with solicitor’s clerk John Davies as his assistant.

When a faceless body is found on an isolated beach, Harry must lead the inquest. But his dogged pursuit of the truth begins to ruffle feathers. Especially when he decides to work alongside a local doctor with a dubious reputation and experimental theories considered radical and dangerous.

Refusing to accept easy answers might not only jeopardise Harry’s chance to be elected coroner permanently but could, it seems, implicate his own family in a crime.

I’ve actually not read anything since Saturday. Silly Easter weekend and all that overrated socialising. But I’m very excited to get stuck in to Jack Jordan’s latest book this afternoon.

What are you reading this week? Let me know! Happy reading! xx

Weekly Wrap-Up (April 7)

Bit of an odd week, this one. Lots of laughter, which is always a good thing. But also some stress and worrying and not particularly good news regarding my doggie. An emergency visit to the vet’s brought some relief with painkillers and antibiotics but it’s very much a game of wait-and-see, especially considering her age (15 years). We have a follow-up appointment on Thursday so if you have any positive vibes you can send our way, it’d be much appreciated.

To the books! What did I read this week?

| BOOKS I READ THIS WEEK |

Normally I wouldn’t at all be happy with this but since I was a bit distracted and one of those books was 554 pages and another one was 440, I’ll take it. I don’t know why this always sounds like I’m defending myself 😂. I’m so ridiculously pleased I was finally able to get started on the Shardlake series and since I’m nicely ahead of blog tour reading, I’m hopeful I’ll be able to squeeze in book 2 really soon. For now, Leah can breathe a sigh of relief 😉

| BOOKS I BOUGHT THIS WEEK |

Still none. I had a few preorders but since they haven’t arrived yet, I’ll show them next week. So far I have the withdrawal symptoms relatively well under control but I’m not sure for how much longer. Getting a wee twitchy.

| BOOK POST THAT LANDED ON MY DOORSTEP THIS WEEK |

All for blog tour purposes and boy, am I excited! With thanks to Quercus, Avon, Michael Joseph and Dome Press.

| ON THE BLOG THIS PAST WEEK |

Monday : Reviewed Run Away by Harlan Coben

Tuesday : Shared my review for The Killer in Me by Olivia Kiernan

Wednesday : This Week in Books

Thursday : Joined the publication day blast for the absolutely wonderful Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts

Friday : Took the day off

Saturday : Joined the blog tour for the fabulous 55 by James Delargy

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

| NEXT WEEK ON NOVEL DEELIGHTS |

Monday : I don’t know

Tuesday : No idea

Wednesday : This Week in Books

Thursday : Blog tour | Extract | Suddenly Single by Carol Wyer

Friday : Not a clue

Saturday : Taking the day off

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

You can’t possibly imagine how insanely worried I am that I forgot to write something down in my schedule 😂. I have one or two (ahem) reviews to write so there may still be something but … so quiet. Things will be back to normal soon, you’ll see 😉

That’s it. The sun is out (yay!), I have reviews to write (boo!) and books to read (woohoo!). Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend.

I will leave you with this delightful find from my dear friend Rae, which cheered me up immensely these past few days. 😉

See you next week! Happy reading! xx

None So Blind by Alis Hawkins | @Alis_Hawkins @emily_glenister @DomePress | #bookreview #NoneSoBlind #recommended

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Author : Alis Hawkins
Title : None So Blind
Series : The Teifi Valley Coroner #1
Pages : 460
Publisher : Dome Press
Publication date : November 15, 2018

aboutthebook

West Wales, 1850.

When an old tree root is dug up, the remains of a young woman are found. Harry Probert-Lloyd, a young barrister forced home from London by encroaching blindness, has been dreading this discovery.

He knows exactly whose bones they are.

Working with his clerk, John Davies, Harry is determined to expose the guilty, but the investigation turns up more questions than answers.

The search for the truth will prove costly. Will Harry and John be the ones to pay the highest price?

mythoughts

There’s none so blind as those that will not see.

I seem to have found a (sub)genre to get increasingly excited about and that’s historical crime fiction. It has the crime element I love so much but its historical setting offers possibilities that the modern setting just doesn’t have. The author starts the book with a brief historic note on law and order in nineteenth century West Wales, concerning inquests and coroners and the like and I found it immensely interesting.

When an old tree root is dug up, the remains of a young woman are discovered. Harry Probert-Lloyd knows exactly whose bones they are. Together with his clerk, John Davies, he sets out to investigate what happened to this young woman and he’s determined to expose her killer.

Set in Wales, a few years after the Rebecca Riots, the influence of those involved still lingers to this day. People will do or say anything to avoid the wrath of the Rebeccaites. I knew nothing about this period and while some of it is explained throughout the story, it never turned into one of those boring history lessons we all hated. I got a really good feeling of what had happened in those days and I’m thankful to the author for keeping the longer explanation for the author’s notes. Because already at almost 460 pages, this isn’t exactly the kind of book you race through in one sitting and it’s a credit to the author for never making me feel like the story was too elaborate or dragged on too much, making me wonder if it couldn’t have been just that little bit shorter.

Harry Probert-Lloyd makes for one incredibly fascinating main character, one I must say is highly original. As the son of a magistrate but raised by a maid, the line between the privileged and the poor is slightly blurred to him. Forced to leave behind his career as a barrister in London, he returns home due to encroaching blindness. During his investigation into the past, he relies heavily on his clerk, John Davies. Here too, the divide between the gentry and its servants plays a huge part. These two characters were a joy to get to know and watching their relationship develop along the way felt incredibly natural.

A town and its residents in fear of repercussions results in quite the frustrating search for the truth for Harry and John. There are secrets and skeletons in closets that many don’t want to be revealed. I did have a good idea of what had happened and why but that didn’t ruin my enjoyment at all. The journey to discover the truth was twisty, gripping, full of brilliantly intriguing characters and I loved every minute of it. I can’t wait for more from Harry and John!

My thanks to Emily Glenister at Dome Press for my fabulous review copy!

None So Blind is out on Thursday!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

Juliet & Romeo by David Hewson @david_hewson @DomePress #blogtour #guestpost #review

Delighted to host a stop on the blog tour for Juliet & Romeo by David Hewson today. My thanks to the publisher for the invitation to join and my wonderful review copy!

Author David Hewson joins me on the blog today with a fantastic guest post on why he feels it’s perfectly acceptable to faff around with all things Shakespeare and I’ll also be sharing my thoughts on this novel retelling.

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Author : David Hewson
Title : Juliet & Romeo
Pages : 256
Publisher : Dome Press
Publication date : May 17, 2018

aboutthebook

Shakespeare’s most well-known and well-loved play has been turned into a gripping romantic thriller with a modern twist. Rich with the sights and smells of medieval Verona, peopled with a vibrant cast of characters who spring from the page, this is Shakespeare as you’ve never read it before – and with a killer twist at the end.

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Ten Reasons to Mess with Shakespeare By David Hewson

People sometimes wave their red, white and blue flags in the air and demand, ‘How dare you faff around with Shakespeare? He is England’s finest, his words as holy as the Bible. He must always appear untouched as nature intended.’

Here are ten reasons why such statements are balderdash.

One

There’s no such thing as ‘the Bible’. Just lots of versions of a Hebrew original of uncertain provenance, sometimes in questionable translations that may have strayed some way from the original meaning. Oh, and arguments rage continually about what should and shouldn’t be included. It’s much the same with Shakespeare. See the ‘bad folio’ of Hamlet which is shorter and a lot less wordy than the accepted version we get in schools. Shakespeare didn’t leave behind any Word docx files or even an original manuscript. What we have tends to come from folios that are remembered scripts written down by performers. In fact…

Two

What you think is Shakespeare may not be Shakespeare at all. I’m not going to step into any of the ‘he was really someone else’ controversies here. But the plain fact is that the plays do contain material that we know comes from other quarters and other hands. Take the three witches summoning Hecate in Macbeth Act III, Scene Five. Spooky stuff, often left out in performance because it’s a bit over the top. And most academics think Shakespeare never wrote it. And then there are the occasions when…

Three

Shakespeare just nicked stuff. Plagiarism wasn’t a big deal in the sixteenth century. People ‘borrowed’ themes, story ideas, plots and even actual prose from time to time. Shakespeare certainly did the first two. The vast majority of his dramas – Romeo and Juliet included – used a variety of plays, novels and history books as their inspiration, and freely adapted them using his own imagination. What’s good for the goose…

Four

The Shakespeare you think you know may not be ‘real’ at all. Most of has have grown up with his tales from school and his phrases – from ‘milk of human kindness’ to ‘all our yesterdays’ (both from Macbeth) – are scattered throughout the English language. But often what we believe to be the stories are simplified versions passed on almost by tradition and reinforced by stagings, moviies and TV versions that have followed. Take Lady Macbeth, an infamous figure who’s inspired everything from opera to the name of a science fiction spaceship. The archetypal evil woman or so most people think.

Now she’s no saint. But if you read the text carefully it’s only certain she participates in the murder of King Duncan, not the later slaughters of Banquo and Macduff’s family. She may be innocent of them. And how did she die? Suicide most people say, though the text is quite unclear on that point. There’s a lot unsaid in Shakespeare which is one reason why…

Five

Theatre messes round with old Will all the time. The originals are too open to interpretation, almost demanding they be changed, to allow for that. Take Patrick Stewart’s wonderful Macbeth a few years back. This was very much of the devilish Macbeth variety. In it he takes part in the slaughter of the Macduffs in person which is not in the play. Take the recent film version with Michael Fassbender. It opens with the funeral of their infant son – a scene which isn’t in the play at all. Though Lady M has a throwaway line in which she reveals she lost a baby – something any modern dramatist will naturally seize upon.

The idea of a definitive version of Shakespeare is plain nonsense.

Six

There’s a reason why my version is called Juliet and Romeo and not the other way round. With Shakespeare you all too often get just half the woman’s side of the story at most. Many of his female characters are either weak victims (Ophelia in Hamlet, Lady Anne Neville in Richard III who, cough, cough, is wooed by Richard at the funeral of her husband Richard just murdered). Or else they’re harpies (Lady Macbeth and Queen Margaret in Richard III).

There’s a reason why Shakespeare must have struggled with female characters – he couldn’t work with them on stage. It was illegal for women to act in public until sixty years or so after Shakespeare died. So all the female parts were taken by men or boys. This is a hell of a handicap to be working under especially when you consider that…

Seven

In Romeo and Juliet, it’s Juliet who’s really in jeopardy. Romeo is a lovestruck youth who’s desperate for a girlfriend and some poetry. Juliet is an intelligent young woman facing a fate that she regards as a death sentence – forced marriage to a man, Count Paris, she doesn’t know, primarily because her father thinks it will be good for business and in any case that’s his decision to make.

The more I read the play and the Italian versions Shakespeare pillaged and changed for his plot, the more I became convinced this was much more Juliet’s story than Romeo’s. If he loses his girlfriend he can always find another. If she married Paris… that’s it. If Shakespeare had been working with a woman editor like most writers today someone somewhere along the line would surely have gripped him by the shoulder and said, ‘Oi, mate. What about the girl?’

Eight

I like history which didn’t much matter at all to old Will. We know the story takes place in Verona but there’s not a clue when. Is that important? Not necessarily but it can be made important which is what adaptation is all about. So I place this tale in the real Verona where I spent a happy two weeks researching it, and at a pivotal time in history, 1499, when the shift in human perspective we now call the Renaissance was just beginning across Italy. Juliet is a smart young woman who wants to choose her life for herself. There’s no better time.

Nine

Different media demand different endings. When I adapted The Killing stories from TV to novel I found I had to come up with new endings because the dramatic ones didn’t work on the page. With plays the stage is the boss and tells you when a story’s over. With a book you can’t just say, ‘Curtain falls, go home.’ Novels mustn’t just end, they need to resolve. And that is why the closing scene of Juliet and Romeo may not be the one you expect.

Ten

And this most important of all… because you can. Stories are living things, always capable of change. I wanted to see the tale of Juliet and Romeo through the prism of a modern perspective and ask the question… how much has really changed?

From recent history you’d have to say… not as much as perhaps we thought.

[Thank you so much, David Hewson, for this incredibly insightful and interesting piece!]

mythoughts

I’ve never actually read Romeo and Juliet. I’ve tried but Shakespeare tends to go right over my head. I am of course familiar with their story, as I’m sure most of you are as well. Two rivalling families in the city of Verona, Italy. The son of the one family falls in love with the daughter of the other. Chaos ensues. Everybody dies. Something like that anyway. 😉

Admittedly, I was a little unsure about picking this one up. Proof of how shallow I am, lies in me confessing to you that I pretty much only opted to read this book as it was endorsed by Richard Armitage. Incidentally, he also apparently did the audio version which, even though I’m not a fan of audio books, I’ve been eying for a while now because Richard’s voice does funny things to me. He could read a good old fashioned phone guide to me and I’d be a puddle of goo. I’m sure you didn’t really need to know that so let’s quickly move on. (Note that the audio version has been nominated for this year’s Audies)

Seeing as I don’t have any previous experience with this story, I was pleasantly surprised by this retelling. Sixteen year old Juliet is a fierce and fabulous young lady. However, her father is trying to arrange a marriage for her and this doesn’t sit well with Juliet at all. There’s more to life than getting married, after all. During a banquet, Juliet meets Romeo.  Aw, young love. But then Romeo is banished from the city and everything goes to pot.

The atmosphere and the setting in Verona drew me in from the start. I could almost see myself wandering around the market stalls, smelling meats and whatnot, hear the horses and the chiming of the bell tower. The characters were really well written. Romeo, the quiet kind, the dreamer, the wanna-be poet. Although quite frankly I didn’t think he was very good with words at all. His family wants to send him off to study to become a lawyer.

But the one who stole the scene every single time was most definitely Juliet. She’s intelligent, wants to be independent and questions everything. I adored her spirit, her determination, her sheer belief that in that particular era, she could be whomever she wants to be. And let’s not forget Nurse, who made me chuckle numerous times with her endless and sometimes rather embarrassing ramblings.

This modern retelling works really well. Sure, there’s a lot of drama and I was actually stunned to see how many things happen in a really short period of time. But I was utterly enthralled and captivated. Even the author’s notes held my interest and if you grab yourself a copy of this, you should definitely read them.

For those, like me, who wanted and have tried to read Shakespeare, this is a fabulous way of being introduced to his stories without suffering a major headache and thinking your knowledge of the English language is non-existent all of a sudden. Although it does bear pointing out that David Hewson did make changes from the original Romeo and Juliet and based his interpretation more so on previous versions than the one we all know.

Intrigue, murder, sword fights, a dash of romance and a few chuckles … what more could you possibly want? I found this to be thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable!

Juliet & Romeo is available for purchase!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

David Hewson is the author of more than 20 published novels including the Pieter Vos series set in Amsterdam and the Nic Costa books set in Rome.

His acclaimed book adaptations of The Killing television series were published around the world. His audio adaptations of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Hamlet with A.J. Hartley, narrated by Alan Cumming and Richard Armitage respectively, were both shortlisted for Audie Awards.

A former journalist with the Sunday Times, Independent and The Times he lives in Kent. His first book with The Dome Press, Juliet and Romeo, will be published in May 2018.

Author links : Twitter | Website

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This Week in Books (May 16)

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Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Last book I finished reading

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Brighton Beach, 1993: Teenagers Nell and Jude find the body of a young woman and when no one comes to claim her, she becomes known as the Brighton Mermaid. Nell is still struggling to move on when, three weeks later, Jude disappears.

Twenty-five years on, Nell quits her job to find out who the Brighton Mermaid really was – and what happened to her best friend that summer.

But as Nell edges closer to the truth, dangerous things start to happen. Someone seems to be watching her every move, and soon she starts to wonder who in her life she can actually trust.


The book I’m currently reading

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Dramatic and energetic retelling of Shakespeare’s most famous tale – with a surprise twist.

Shakespeare’s most well-known and well-loved play has been turned into a gripping romantic thriller with a modern twist. Rich with the sights and smells of medieval Verona, peopled with a vibrant cast of characters who spring from the page, this is Shakespeare as you’ve never read it before – and with a killer twist at the end.


What I’m (probably) reading next

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Robert kisses his wife on the head before heading out to the shop for more wine; he walks up the hill, takes a left across the footbridge and jumps to his death on the busy motorway below.

Two years later, Francesca and her young daughter are leaving London for a fresh start, money is tight and Robert’s mother has found them a little cottage in her village. Francesca is grateful for the help, but why does Robert’s mother want to keep them so close? Does she know about what Francesca did in the hour before Robert’s death?

Soon Francesca begins to suspect there was more to her husband’s death than she realised, that there might be even darker secrets hiding in his past than her own…

The closer she gets to uncovering the truth, the more she asks: is her own life in danger now too?

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What are you reading this week? Let me know! I might be cleaning up some older “I’ll probably never read these” books from my Goodreads shelf so I need new shiny stuff to add to it. 😉

Happy reading! xx

Yellow Room by Shelan Rodger @DomePress

** advanced copy received from publisher **

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Author : Shelan Rodger
Title : Yellow Room
Pages : 256
Publisher : The Dome Press
Publication date : October 5, 2017

aboutthebook

Haunted by a tragic childhood accident, Chala’s whole life has been moulded by guilt and secrets. After the death of the stepfather she adored, Chala is thrown into turmoil once again.

Volunteering in Kenya seems to offer an escape, and a way of re-evaluating her adult relationships, although violence and hardship simmer alongside its richness and beauty.

The secrets of the Yellow Room are still with her and she can’t run away forever.

mythoughts

The opening chapter of Yellow Room is one you won’t forget in a hurry. At the time, our main character Chala is only four years old but the events result in a family secret that will shape her life, her future and heavily influence her relationships.

When her stepfather dies, Chala feels completely adrift. She decides to go to Kenya to volunteer at an orphanage. The country is in turmoil, marred by violence and the orphans, most of which come from the streets, have a tough time leaving their old lives behind. The choices and mistakes they make will affect their lives. Ultimately, Chala will realise that no matter where she goes, the secrets will stay with her like scars and that maybe all the guilt she carries she with her could be misplaced.

Secrets are like scars that heal over a wound that never quite disappears.

I found it quite hard to warm to Chala and her husband Paul. Neither came across especially sympathetically. They are both utterly flawed, yet human and completely realistic. I sometimes struggle with a story if I don’t particularly like the characters but there’s something about the author’s writing that really drew me in, something haunting, something quite exquisite and I was eager to keep reading.

Having never been to Africa, it was easy to imagine what it might be like due to the wonderful descriptions and the incredible atmosphere Shelan Rodger was able to create. When election day causes violence to break out, the tension was utterly palpable and had me on the edge of my seat.

Yellow Room is a beautifully written and memorable story about family and secrets. It’s brilliantly perceptive and evocative and while so far removed from my usual genres, I’m pleased I was given the opportunity to read and enjoy this one.

Many thanks to Karen Bultiauw and The Dome Press for my advanced copy, which I chose to review honestly!

Yellow Room is available now!

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