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A Dangerous Crossing – Rachel Rhys

Published November 10, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

England, September 1939
Lily Shepherd boards a cruise liner for a new life in Australia and is plunged into a world of cocktails, jazz and glamorous friends. But as the sun beats down, poisonous secrets begin to surface. Suddenly Lily finds herself trapped with nowhere to go …

Australia, six-weeks later
The world is at war, the cruise liner docks, and a beautiful young woman is escorted onto dry land in handcuffs.

What has she done?

What did I think?:

I was first made aware of A Dangerous Crossing through a good blogger friend, the wonderful Cleopatra from Cleopatra Loves Books and you can read her fantastic review HERE. She gave it five stars and called it “a story not to be missed.” Cleo also won the opportunity to have her name appear as a character in this novel by means of a charity auction on behalf on CLIC Sargent so look out for her fabulous cameo near the end! Cleo is one of a special group of people to me that when she makes a recommendation I really listen and I’m so glad I did because I cannot stress enough how wonderful this book was. Rachel Rhys (the pen-name of a successful psychological suspense author) writes such a vivid historical fiction novel that I was completely swept up with the time period, the characters and the evocative, mysterious nature of the narrative.

Our main female protagonist is Lily Shepherd and she has recently boarded a massive cruise ship en route to Australia in search of adventure, to see the world and escape certain events from her past. She gratefully seizes an opportunity to pursue domestic work in Australia in the late 1930’s when they were crying out for British workers for a fixed period of time. On the voyage, she instantly connects with a brother and sister, Edward and Helena Fletcher and a Jewish refugee called Maria but also comes into contact with the glamorous and rich couple Eliza and Max Campbell, strange and interfering Ida and fascist bully George. Interestingly, all the characters she comes into contact with appear to be running away from something and as the voyage continues, Lily slowly discovers what this is. At the very beginning of the novel, the prologue describes a woman being led off the ship in handcuffs but just what the woman has done and what precipitated her crime is all left for the reader to discover, piece by delicious piece.

A Dangerous Crossing was picked for the Richard and Judy Autumn Book Club here in the UK and it’s easily one of my favourites in terms of writing style, characters and plot. How can I describe the characters? There’s only one word really – just GORGEOUS. There’s such a variety of individuals to enjoy, each drawn beautifully with their own distinct personality, motives and morals that it’s almost like watching a blockbuster movie in your head. I was taken directly into the author’s world (a very willing and excited participant) from that show-stopper of a prologue right until the sensational finale which shocked and delighted me in equal measure. England is on the brink of war but on this cruise liner, in the middle of the ocean, it’s a completely different world entirely with its very own heroes and villains, morals and obligations, drama and danger. Basically, this book is perfection and I have not got a bad word to say about it – please read it and discover its brilliance for yourself!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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British Books Challenge 2016 – The Round Up

Published January 1, 2017 by bibliobeth

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2016 was my fourth year of participating in the British Books Challenge. I love doing this every year and think it’s important to support our authors here in the UK, old and new. Here’s what I’ve managed to review this year in British Books!

Frost Hollow Hall – Emma Carroll

The Horse Dancer – Jojo Moyes

We Were Just Driving Around – Jon McGregor

Bella Broomstick – Lou Kuenzler

The Chamois – Daphne du Maurier

Silent Saturday – Helen Grant

The Demons Of Ghent – Helen Grant

Urban Legends – Helen Grant

The Demon Headmaster – Gillian Cross

Under The Pylon – Graham Joyce

The Versions Of Us – Laura Barnett

The Quality Of Silence – Rosamund Lupton

In A Dark, Dark Wood – Ruth Ware

Duet – Kate Mosse

Carrie’s War – Nina Bawden

The Coral Strand – Ravinder Randhawa

Defender Of The Realm (Defender Of The Realm #1) – Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler

Strange Girls And Ordinary Women – Morgan McCarthy

The Samaritan (Carter Blake #2) – Mason Cross

Moving – Jenny Eclair

Enough Of This Shit Already – Tony Black

The Boy In The Dress – David Walliams

Jamaica Inn – Daphne du Maurier

Create Your Own Spy Mission – Andrew and Chris Judge

Charm For A Friend With A Lump – Helen Simpson

A Year Of Marvellous Ways – Sarah Winman

Noble Conflict – Malorie Blackman

The Girl On The Train – Paula Hawkins

The Inventory: Iron Fist (The Inventory #1) – Andy Briggs

Alfie Bloom And The Secrets Of Hexbridge Castle (Alfie Bloom #1) – Gabrielle Kent

Alfie Bloom And The Talisman Thief (Alfie Bloom #2) – Gabrielle Kent

Notes From The House Spirits – Lucy Wood

Our Endless Numbered Days – Claire Fuller

How I Finally Lost My Heart – Doris Lessing

The Bones Of You – Debbie Howells

According To Yes – Dawn French

The Borrowers – Mary Norton

Random Acts Of Unkindness – Jacqueline Ward

The Adventure Of The Speckled Band – Arthur Conan Doyle

Maggot Moon – Sally Gardner

Sweet Caress – William Boyd

The Girls – Lisa Jewell

The Oasis Of Time – Carolyn Waugh

Author Requests – Off Key by Mark Robertson, Piano From A 4th Storey Window by Jenny Morton Potts and The Death Of Danny Daggers by Haydn Wilks

The Love Song Of Miss Queenie Hennessy – Rachel Joyce

A Dictionary Of Mutual Understanding – Jackie Copleton

Garlic And Gauloises – Hemmie Martin

Looking For JJ (Jennifer Jones #1) – Anne Cassidy

If It Keeps On Raining – Jon McGregor

Reasons To Stay Alive – Matt Haig

Stranger Than We Can Imagine: Making Sense Of The Twentieth Century – John Higgs

The Lordly Ones – Daphne du Maurier

Roseblood – Paul Doherty

The Last Act Of Love – Cathy Rentzenbrink

Tiger Moth – Graham Joyce

The Widow – Fiona Barton

The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase – Joan Aiken

The Puppet Master – Abigail Osborne

Under My Skin – James Dawson

Red Letter Day – Kate Mosse

Missing, Presumed – Susie Steiner

Getting It Wrong – Ramsey Campbell

Disclaimer – Renée Knight

Ballet Shoes – Noel Streatfeild

Among Others – Jo Walton

Chinese Whispers – Ben Chu

The Last Leaves Falling – Fox Benwell

Hogmanay Homicide – Edward Marston

 The Loving Husband – Christobel Kent

The Boy Who Sailed The Ocean In An Armchair

So if I’ve calculated correctly, that makes it 72 books for the British Books Challenge this year. It isn’t as much as last year but I’ve still made the target of 12 books a year which I’m very happy with, especially as I haven’t had a great blogging year with a lot of illness. 😦

Highlights from this year include Disclaimer by Renee Knight which I will treasure as not only is it a fantastic book but I also managed to meet the lady herself at Crime At The Court (hosted by Goldsboro Books, London) with my blogger buddy Cleopatra Loves Books. She’s lovely and so very talented and I will probably read anything she ever writes! The Last Act Of Love was also a hugely important and emotional book for me and I loved reviewing it with my sister, Chrissi Reads in our little “Talking About” feature which we do on occasion. Other honourable mentions go to Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig, Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller, Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier, the Forbidden Spaces Trilogy by Helen Grant and the fabulous Emma Carroll who wrote the beautiful Frost Hollow Hall. I could go on and on. I’m certainly looking forward to reading some more “best of British” books in 2017! Look out for my sign up post coming soon.

Talking About The Girls by Lisa Jewell with Chrissi Reads

Published August 10, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Dark secrets, a devastating mystery and the games people play: the gripping new novel from the bestselling author of The House We Grew Up In and The Third Wife.

You live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses.

You’ve known your neighbours for years and you trust them. Implicitly.

You think your children are safe.

But are they really?

Midsummer night: a thirteen-year-old girl is found unconscious in a dark corner of the garden square. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?

Utterly believable characters, a gripping story and a dark secret buried at its core: this is Lisa Jewell at her heart-stopping best.

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: Did you have any preconceptions about this author before starting this book?

BETH: Hmm, I don’t think I had any preconceptions but I definitely had expectations. Lisa Jewell is a favourite author of one of my favourite bloggers, Cleopatra Loves Books and I always meant to read one of her books. I was super glad when Richard and Judy picked it as one of their books for Summer 2016 as you know we follow this list religiously and I knew I was going to finally get the opportunity to read her! Now that I have, I can see what Cleo is talking about and I’m going to make it my mission to read her back catalogue… er… eventually!

BETH: How do you think the absence of Pip and Grace’s father affects them in the novel? Does this have any bearings on what happened?
CHRISSI: What an interesting question! I do think that the absence of Pip and Grace’s father affects them in the novel, in very different ways. I feel like they did miss their father but it manifested in different ways. Grace, I believe, was more angry with her father whereas Pip missed him dearly. Her letters to him were adorable and so touching. I’m not so sure about it having any bearings on what happens but it would be interesting, if there was a father figure around, whether certain events would have played out in the same way.

CHRISSI: What do you think the location of the novel in a residential square adds to the novel?

BETH: I think it gives the story as a whole a lot more atmosphere and tension. The characters that we meet all live in very close proximity to each other and the huge gardens that surround the houses are communal. It can be a bit cliquey, and the neighbours that don’t join in with the activities are viewed with a bit of suspicion. It also offers a lot of opportunities for situations to escalate, gossip to spread and tension to rise.

BETH: This is a story about secrets – is it ever better to keep a secret than to share?
CHRISSI: Ooh, this is a particularly tricky question, especially because of the job I’m in.  As a teacher working with young children we are always taught to be very careful around ‘secrets’ for child protection issues. Unfortunately, when some bad things happen to children they are asked to keep it secret otherwise there will be trouble. It’s an awkward one. When I’ve discussed the topic of secrets with my class, I always say that there are secrets that can be fun e.g. a surprise party, but some secrets can be harmful. So in answer to the question, no- it’s not ever better to keep a secret than to share. It really depends on circumstances. Secrets can hurt people but they can also protect people. Argh. Such a tricky one.

CHRISSI: Discuss the family relationships in this story.

BETH: There are quite a lot of characters to come to grips with in this novel but personally, that never overwhelmed me as the characters were written so well that I felt I knew each one of them individually which helped me connect to both them and the story. I loved the differing dynamics between the families – between parents and children, between the siblings and how the children interacted with each other across the various families. We got a wide range of personality types, parenting styles and plot twists to keep the reader turning the pages. My favourite relationship had to be Claire with her children Pip and Grace and also their absent father whose absence is a story all of its own!
BETH: Did you have a favourite character in this novel and why?
CHRISSI: I really liked Pip. I found her incredibly endearing and I thought her notes to her absent father were very endearing!
CHRISSI: Did you find this book predictable in any way?
BETH: No, not really and I’m so glad! I do feel a bit annoyed every time I can predict where a story is going and I love to be surprised and shocked as a reader. I thought I had everything figured out in terms of what happened but I certainly didn’t even though the author leaves tiny little breadcrumb clues through the narrative. The ending also was interesting in that it didn’t finish completely how I wanted but in that way it made it better if that makes any sense?

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Yes! I really enjoyed Lisa Jewell’s writing and I can totally see why Cleo is such a fan. 🙂
Would WE recommend it?:
BETH: But of course!
CHRISSI: Of course!
BETH’S star rating (out of 5):
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CHRISSI’s star rating (out of 5):
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My Lovely Bookshelves

Published June 6, 2015 by bibliobeth

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Hello everyone, I’m here to introduce my lovely bookshelves. I was inspired to write this post after seeing Cleo’s bookshelves on her blog – please see her post here and she in turn, was inspired by the post on Snazzy Books site. Thanks girls!

How do I organise my books?

I’ve got quite a few places for books to live despite having these two bookshelves which as you can see, are full to the brim. Despite the chaos that you can see, it is organised honest! I have a shelf which is mainly review books by Book Bridgr, lovely authors who send me books etc. I have another shelf for crime/horror/thriller which holds authors such as James Herbert, Dean Koontz, James Patterson, Lee Child, Tess Gerritsen.

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The shelf in the middle of the picture are my little Agatha Christie hardbacks which look beautiful and I absolutely love but somehow need to get round to reading!

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Favourite authors that appear on my shelf?

Philippa Gregory, Alison Weir, Victoria Hislop, Irvine Welsh, John Grisham, Haruki Murakami, Ben Elton and Ian McEwan amongst many, many others. I even have an entire shelf devoted to the king that is Stephen King.

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What books do I have that I want to read soon but haven’t yet got around to?

Ah, these cover a range of shelves! The Quick by Lauren Owen, The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman, All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart, Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill, Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant and The Ruby Slippers by Keir Alexander…to name a few.

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Which books do I wish that were on my bookshelf but aren’t?

This is a tough one. I already feel that I could give The British Library a run for its money. I would love to have first editions of my all-time favourite books like It by Stephen King, Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami.

Which books on my shelf are borrowed?

I’ve got Chinese Whispers by Ben Chu, Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel and the recent Baileys Women’s Prize for fiction winner 2015 How To Be Both by Ali Smith which I’ve borrowed from the local library.

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Is there anything I dislike about my bookshelves?

That there isn’t enough room! Just look at all the books I’ve had to stack up against the bookshelves on the floor. And then there’s under my bed where I’ve managed to squeeze a few (ok… around thirty/forty). I’ve got some amazing books here that I’m a little afraid that I’m going to forget about because I can’t see them properly in all their glory. At the moment I’m on a book banning buy so that I can try and get on top of my TBR and get the books on the floor and under the bed in the shelves where they belong. It’s hard though, when books come a calling, I want to go a buying!

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So there’s a quick gander at my bookish life. Yes, it’s messy and a bit complicated, but I love it and never get bored of rummaging in my shelves. Thanks again to Cleopatra Loves Books and Snazzy Books for the idea for this post and Happy Reading to everyone!

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