Siren by Celina Grace #bookreview

Siren

Siren is the newly published 9th book in the Kate Redman Mystery series, written by Celina Grace, and is only the second I have read, but that doesn’t matter a jot. On the first page of Chapter One we soon get to know Detective Sergeant Kate Redman and learn about her friendship with Detective Inspector Mark Olbeck, who is in the early stages of adopting a child with his partner Jeff. Kate is prepared to work long hours, as her boyfriend, Tin, is in New York and she hasn’t seen him for three months.

The prologue has introduced an intriguing murder scene and soon Kate and Mark are summoned there by their boss, Detective Chief Inspector Anderton. Kate is surprised, when Anderton asks her to accompany him to interview the victim’s wife. It is soon evident that Simon Farraday, who has been murdered, had antagonised many people and liked to indulge in sexual fantasies. As the complex plot unwinds, Kate finds herself drawn to Anderton, although she is about to visit Tin in New York.

The balance between determining who might be the murderer and Kate’s dilemma about leaving her home and job to settle in New York, keep the reader guessing and you can’t help empathising with Kate’s problems. The unpleasant smell and sight of the murder scene is as vividly described as the beautiful garden of the Farraday home and the characters’ emotions are realistic. A great read, which certainly makes me want to seek out Kate’s earlier cases.

 

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#FridayBookShare Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce

#FridayBookShare is a game created by Shelley Wilson to help search for an ideal read.

Anyone can have a go – all you need to do is answer the following questions based on the book you are currently reading/finished reading this week and use the hashtag #FridayBookShare

First line of the book.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb

Introduce the main character using only three words.

Delightful design (add the cover image of the book).

Audience appeal (who would enjoy reading this book?)

Your favourite line/scene.

Framed was a book I first bought for my school library many years ago but which I wanted to return to as a relief from all the angst in the UK currently.

First Line  My dad, right- ask anyone this, they’ll all say the same- my dad can fix anything; Toyota, Hyundai, Ford. Even Nice Tom’s Mam’s diddy Daihatsu which is about the size of a marshmallow so you need tweezers to fix it.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb

The perfect crime – it’s a work of art, in Frank Cottrell Boyce’s ingenious story, Framed.

Dylan is the only boy living in the tiny Welsh town of Manod. His parents run the Snowdonia Oasis Auto Marvel garage – and when he’s not trying to persuade his sisters to play football, Dylan is in charge of the petrol log. And that means he gets to keep track of everyone coming in and out of Manod – what car they drive, what they’re called, even their favourite flavour of crisps. But when a mysterious convoy of lorries trundles up the misty mountainside towards an old, disused mine, even Dylan is confounded. Who are these people – and what have they got to hide?

A story inspired by a press cutting describing how, during World War II, the treasured contents of London’s National Gallery were stored in Welsh slate mines. Once a month, a morale-boosting masterpiece would be unveiled in the village and then returned to London for viewing. This is a funny and touching exploration of how Art – its beauty and its value – touches the life of one little boy and his big family in a very small town.

Introduce the main character –  Eccentric boy thief

Delightful Design

 

new Frame

Audience appeal   Age 9 plus including me!  It might help if you can remember Teenage Mutant Ninja  Turtles.

Your favourite line/scene

The Misses Sellwood live on a farm halfway up Manod Mountain.  Miss Elsa can drive but she can’t see.  Miss Edna can see but she can’t drive.  So what they do is, every Wednesday Miss Elsa drives and Miss Edna steers.  It’s not so risky on the mountain road because no-one lives up there apart from them and Mr Morgan’s sheep, but when they hit the High Street, they are a Menace to Society.

If you want to join in, then answer the F.R.I.D.A.Y questions and use the Friday Book Share meme. Tag Shelley (@ShelleyWilson72) in, so she can read what you have added, too.

A Most Reluctant Princess by Jean M Cogdell

Princess
This is a simple, pleasing story in rhyme about a small girl, whose father calls her his little princess, which is illustrated with cute drawings of a no-nonsense child. Quite logically, as children often are, she believes that she can’t be a princess because Daddy isn’t a king, so what can she be? She thinks of a variety of professions to which her mother, lovingly comments, “Don’t worry. What will be, will be.” I was little unsure of the rhythm and vocabulary in some verses, such as “Don’t speak without permission,” but I loved the moral of the story, that she shouldn’t grow up too quickly while she can enjoy being Daddy’s little princess.

Rosie's Book Review team 1

#FridayBookShare The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett

#FridayBookShare is a game created by Shelley Wilson to help search for an ideal read.

Anyone can have a go – all you need to do is answer the following questions based on the book you are currently reading/finished reading this week and use the hashtag #FridayBookShare

First line of the book.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb

Introduce the main character using only three words.

Delightful design (add the cover image of the book).

Audience appeal (who would enjoy reading this book?)

Your favourite line/scene.

I have finally started to read The Shepherd’s Crown, Terry Pratchett’s last book.

First LineIt was born in the darkness of the Circle Sea; at first just a soft floating thing, washed back and forth by tide after tide.

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A SHIVERING OF WORLDS

Deep in the Chalk, something is stirring. The owls and the foxes can sense it, and Tiffany Aching feels it in her boots. An old enemy is gathering strength.

This is a time of endings and beginnings, old friends and new, a blurring of edges and a shifting of power. Now Tiffany stands between the light and the dark, the good and the bad.

As the fairy horde prepares for invasion, Tiffany must summon all the witches to stand with her. To protect the land. Her land.

There will be a reckoning . . .

THE FINAL DISCWORLD NOVEL

Introduce the main character  –Listener, Midwife, Witch.

Delightful Design

Shepherd

Audience appeal  –Anyone with a good sense of humour and a love of the absurd.

Your favourite line/scene

“Dear sir, Mister Feegle,” said Mrs Earwig.  “This is a council of war, so we should be discussing strategies and tactics.”

“Ah weel, ye can if ye wish, but we are Feegles and we dinnae mess about wi’ things like that.  It’s all aboot usin’ yon claymore to best offence.  And if ye dinnae get that right, your last resort is to nut ’em.

Tiffany took in Mrs Earwig’s face and said cheerfully, “Could you do that, Mrs Earwig?”

She was given a Look, and Mrs Earwig said, “I will nut as I see fit.”  And to Tiffany’s surprise, the other witches applauded, and for once Mrs Earwig was wreathed in smiles.

If you want to join in, then answer the F.R.I.D.A.Y questions and use the Friday Book Share meme. Tag Shelley (@ShelleyWilson72) in, so she can read what you have added, too.

Madam Tulip by David Ahern

Madam Tulip

Derry O’Donnell is a fully qualified, out of work actress who lives in Dublin.  Her father, Jacko, is a charming artist, fond of gambling, while her mother, Vanessa, is an assertive, successful Gallery owner in New York.

 

Derry’s friend, Bella, suggests that Derry uses her psychic talents, as the daughter of a seventh son of a seventh son, to create the persona of a mystic called Madam Tulip.  After meeting a friend of Jacko at a race course, Derry is persuaded by supermodel Marlene O’Mara to give Madam Tulip her first performance, giving consultations and predictions to clients at a Charity Bash taking place in a castle, the following weekend.  Among the guests are Mojo, a rapper from London and his partner Sony a Dee, an American R n B singer.

 

Derry finds Bruce, an old friend and also a “resting” actor, working at the castle.  In addition, he is an ex US navy SEAL with special skills which she will soon need to rely on.  Mojo is found dead in suspicious circumstances and Bella is arrested.  When it looks as though Derry might also be framed for murder, she decides to find the real culprit, but she is hindered by the lack of co-operation of her old flame, Fitz, an aristocratic policeman from London, who is working incognito.

 

Derry is a brave, likeable heroine, who inspires loyalty from her friends.  She relishes danger, although unsure of the advantage of her ability to sense people’s secrets and predict consequences.  The second half of the novel is full of drama and adventure.  It is clear that Derry or Madam Tulip could continue with other thrilling investigations since you can trust her and enjoy her sardonic humour.

 

This story fits into the “cozy mystery” genre but there is also a touch of Irish feyness which reminds me of the books of David’s namesake, Cecelia Ahern.  A most enjoyable read.

Rosie's Book Review team 1

#FridayBookShare The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson

#FridayBookShare is a game created by Shelley Wilson to help search for an ideal read.

Anyone can have a go – all you need to do is answer the following questions based on the book you are currently reading/finished reading this week and use the hashtag #FridayBookShare

First line of the book.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb

Introduce the main character using only three words.

Delightful design (add the cover image of the book).

Audience appeal (who would enjoy reading this book?)

Your favourite line/scene.

I recently received The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson, as a gift from a stranger, through an anonymous book sharing scheme.  Many years ago I loved reading Notes from a Small Island about Bill’s first impressions of Britain, but what does he think now?

First Line – “One of the things that happens when you get older is that you discover lots of new ways to hurt yourself.”

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Twenty years ago, Bill Bryson went on a trip around Britain to celebrate the green and kindly island that had become his adopted country. The hilarious book that resulted, Notes from a Small Island, was taken to the nation’s heart and became the bestselling travel book ever, and was also voted in a BBC poll the book that best represents Britain.Now, to mark the twentieth anniversary of that modern classic, Bryson makes a brand-new journey round Britain to see what has changed.

Following (but not too closely) a route he dubs the Bryson Line, from Bognor Regis to Cape Wrath, by way of places that many people never get to at all, Bryson sets out to rediscover the wondrously beautiful, magnificently eccentric, endearingly unique country that he thought he knew but doesn’t altogether recognize any more. Yet, despite Britain’s occasional failings and more or less eternal bewilderments, Bill Bryson is still pleased to call our rainy island home. And not just because of the cream teas, a noble history, and an extra day off at Christmas.

Once again, with his matchless homing instinct for the funniest and quirkiest, his unerring eye for the idiotic, the endearing, the ridiculous and the scandalous, Bryson gives us an acute and perceptive insight into all that is best and worst about Britain today.

Introduce the main character  Witty, indomitable, Bill. 

Delightful Design

Little D

Audience appeal  Anyone who enjoys reading Bryson’s humorous observations.  Anyone from Britain, anyone who has visited Britain or anyone who intends visiting.

Your favourite line/scene  –In order to become a British citizen Bryson had to pass a knowledge test, so he sent for a study guide:-

The study guide is an interesting book, nicely modest, a little vacuous at times, but with its heart in the right place.  Britain, you learn, is a country that cherishes fair play, is rather good at art and literature, values good manners, and has often shown itself to be commendably inventive, especially around things that run on steam.  The people are a generally decent lot who garden, go for walks in the country, eat roast beef and Yorkshire pudding on sundays (unless they are Scottish in which case they may go for haggis).  They holiday at the seaside, obey the Green Cross Code, queue patiently, vote sensibly, respect the police, venerate the monarch, and practise moderation in all things.  Occasionally they go to a public house to drink two units or fewer of good English ale and to have a game of pool or skittles. (You sometimes feel that the people who wrote the guidebook should get out more.)

 

If you want to join in, then answer the F.R.I.D.A.Y questions and use the Friday Book Share meme. Tag Shelley (@ShelleyWilson72) in, so she can read what you have added, too.

Agatha Raisin #amreading

agatha

You may have recently seen the beginning of a series on Sky 1 about Agatha Raisin.  I first discovered Agatha, hiding in the crime and mystery shelves in my local library.  Finding that the books about her were written by the author of Hamish MacBeth, I knew I would have to try one of M C Beaton’s books.

I started at the beginning with The Quiche of Death, where we soon learn that over achiever, Agatha, tries to hide her working class Birmingham roots and will lie and cheat to be successful, even if it is only in the social group of a small village.  Yet despite her outrageous behaviour, I couldn’t help liking her, as do many of the people she meets.  The others despise her!  It’s Midsummer Murders with an eccentric lay detective and plenty of humour.

This is the blurb for the second book.

THE POTTED GARDENER

Agatha goes digging where she shouldn’t…

Agatha is taken aback when she finds a new woman ensconced in the affections of her attractive bachelor neighbour, James Lacey. The beautiful Mary Fortune is superior in every way, especially when it comes to gardening – and with Carsely Garden Open Day looming, Agatha feels this deficiency acutely.So when Mary is discovered murdered, buried upside down in a pot, Agatha seizes the moment and immediately starts yanking up village secrets by their roots and digging the dirt on the hapless victim. But Agatha has an awkward secret too . . .

Hamish

After reading many of these books I moved on to Hamish Macbeth, whom I remembered fondly from the TV series many moons ago.  Hamish is the only policeman in the remote Scottish town of Lochdubh.  There is nothing he likes better than a quiet life, but crime keeps turning up on his doorstep and with the help of one or more of his erstwhile girlfriends, he always solves the mystery.

Minerva

Next I read the first of the Six Sisters series which M C Beaton originally published under the name Marion Chesney.  Here is the blurb

MINERVA

The first in M.C. Beaton’s great fun Regency Romance series: The Six Sisters. Raven-haired Minerva, eldest daughter of an impecunious vicar, When the Reverend Charles Armitage, an impecunious country vicar in Regency England, announces that raven-haired Minerva, the eldest of his six daughters, is to have her coming-out in London, the news is not well received by the rest of the family. Mrs. Armitage has one of her Spasms and has to be brought round by burning a quantity of feathers under her nose. Annabelle, the nearest in age to Minerva, is clearly jealous, the boys are all surly, and the other girls just start off crying.

Minerva is despatched to Town under the wing of the disreputable old Lady Godolphin. Her task – to find a rich husband and thereby restore the ailing family fortunes.

But the other five daughters will all get their chance, because Minerva is but the first volume in The Six Sisters series by Marion Chesney.

mcbeaton_web_pic

M C Beaton is a prodigious writer.  She doesn’t produce great literature but her books are imaginative, lively writing.  Her characters jump out of the page.  She invented the Cosy Mystery before anyone used the term.

She was born in Scotland in 1936 and worked in Scotland and London as a journalist with the Daily Express.  She moved to the United States with her husband but wanting time at home with her son, she began to write books.  The couple returned to Scotland and bought a croft in Sutherland.  Later they moved to the Cotswolds, the setting for Agatha Raisin.

http://www.agatharaisin.com/