That Was The Month That Was… April 2019! #ReadingWrapUp

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April was a busy month for me so I’ve been feeling shattered but it was a productive month so it was worth it.

My husband had two weeks holiday from work and most of our time was spent shopping for a new car, and it was harder work than I’d envisioned. Our current car is old and we got it before my disability happened so it’s really not practical for me. We’ve now chosen our new car and are awaiting a delivery date.

We then spent a lot of our time binge-watching Line of Duty (I’d seen a couple of series but he’d seen none of it so we watched from the beginning). It was stressful avoiding spoilers for the current series as we were catching up but we finally watched episode 5 of series 5  late on Sunday night so we’re up to date ready for the final episode this weekend!

 

Here are the books I read in April:

 

Chickens Eat Pasta by Clare Pedrick

The Innocent Man by John Grisham

Sleep by C. L. Taylor

Baxter’s Requiem by Matthew Crow

 

Adnan’s Story by Rabia Chaudry

The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon

Amazing Grace by Kim Nash

Between the Regions of Kindness by Alice Jolly

 

The Case of Mary Bell by Gitta Sereny

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

The Neighbour by Fiona Cummins

The Tapestry Bag by Isabella Muir

 

The Blame Game by C. J. Cooke

TWA 800: The Crash, The Cover-Up and The Conspiracy by Jack Cashill

The Blue Bench by Paul Marriner

Mary’s Household Tips and Tricks by Mary Berry

 

April Blog Posts & Reviews:

That Was The Month That Was… March

Review of Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

Review of Sleep by C. L. Taylor

Review of Chickens Eat Pasta by Clare Pedrick

Review of 55 by James Delargy

This Week in Books (10 April)

Stacking the Shelves (13 April)

Review of Amazing Grace by Kim Nash

Review of The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon

This Week in Books (17 April)

Review of Baxter’s Requiem by Matthew Crow

Review of Between the Regions of Kindness by Alice Jolly

This Week in Books (24 April)

Ten Things You Didn’t Know about Samantha Henthorn, Author of Edna and Genevieve Escape From Curmudgeon Avenue (Guest Post)

 

The state of my TBR:

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So my TBR is completely and utterly out of control again! My plan to reduce my TBR by a small number each month so that it would be 200 books smaller by the end of this year has gone awry! Given my plan I should have 2367 or fewer books on my TBR but the actual number is 2526! Ooops! I was aware that I’m accumulating books faster than I’m reading them but I didn’t realise the numbers were so far apart from each other. I think I need to have another book cull and to really think more about the books I’m buying or accepting for review. (Or accept that I’m going to have a TBR mountain that I never get to the bottom of!).

 


 

How was April for you? I hope you all had a good month and that you read lots of good books. Did you read many books? What was your favourite book of the month? Please tell me in the comments, I’d love to know. Also, if you have a blog please feel free to leave a link to your month’s wrap-up post and I’ll be sure to read and comment back. 🙂

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#BookReview: The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon | @VandaSymon @OrendaBooks @AnneCater #TheRingmaster #SamShephard

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About the Book

Death is stalking the South Island of New Zealand

Marginalised by previous antics, Sam Shephard, is on the bottom rung of detective training in Dunedin, and her boss makes sure she knows it. She gets involved in her first homicide investigation, when a university student is murdered in the Botanic Gardens, and Sam soon discovers this is not an isolated incident. There is a chilling prospect of a predator loose in Dunedin, and a very strong possibility that the deaths are linked to a visiting circus…

Determined to find out who’s running the show, and to prove herself, Sam throws herself into an investigation that can have only one ending…

 

My Thoughts

I adored getting to know Sam Shephard in Overkill and I’m thrilled to have the chance to share my thoughts on the brilliant second book in the series featuring her, The Ringmaster!

The Ringmaster follows Sam as she investigates the murder of a university student. In the course of the investigation Sam ends up looking in to the circus that’s in town as it seems possible that there is a link. Sam has recently been promoted and has moved to Dunedin but her superior officer isn’t happy with this and makes Sam’s work life difficult but she is determined to prove herself.

Throughout The Ringmaster I loved seeing Sam build a working relationship with her fellow Officer Smithy and hope to see more of him in future novels. I also enjoyed seeing her tentatively embarking on a new romantic relationship. Sam is such a down to earth woman – she isn’t perfect but she’s very likeable and works really hard – so that seeing her go about her day having the sort of mishaps that happen to me at inopportune moments just really endears her to me. I feel like I could be friends with her. I said in my review of Overkill that I thought I might have found a new detective to fill the Kinsey Millhone-shaped hole in my life and now I can absolutely confirm that I absolutely have! Sam Shephard is such a brilliant character!

The opening of The Ringmaster is shocking, perhaps not quite as shocking as the opening chapter of Overkill, but very nearly! It seems a young woman may have been lured to her death and there’s something so terrifying and devastating about the idea of someone being killed like that by someone they trusted and cared about.

The Ringmaster is a novel that really explores at how it is to be other, to feel on the outside, to be marginalised. Sam is new to the Dunedin and made to feel like an outsider at work, she’s also having to stay with her friend Maggie’s family so doesn’t have a home of her own at the moment. The circus workers that get questioned over the murder are of various nationalities and this seems to heighten suspicion around them regarding the murder. I know what it is to other and it’s so hard when you feel that people have pre-judged you on something you can do nothing about. My circumstances are very different to the workers from the circus but I still felt an empathy for them as they tried very hard to fit in.

I struggle with understanding circuses that use animals, it doesn’t sit right with me at all. I was felt particularly sad reading about Cassie the elephant in her enclosure. In one part of the novel something really awful happens at the circus, which leads to heartbreaking scenes and I found myself in tears at this part of the book. Vanda Symon has such a brilliant way of writing scenes such as this though – she doesn’t shy away from the harsh reality of the situation but at the same time there is a real sensitivity to her writing that makes me want to keep reading.

The Ringmaster has an underlying tension running through it as you look with suspicion at quite a few characters wondering if they might be the murderer. I enjoyed the psychology aspect of the investigation as Sam, with help from Maggie, tries to profile the murderer in order to try and get a lead in the case. This is definitely a whodunnit crime mystery but it’s also very much a whydunnit so even if you think you know who the murderer is you’ll still have to work out the why. I loved that there was more than one element and it certainly kept me on my toes as I was reading. The why was more of a shock to me than the who but I was still left utterly reeling by the end!

Vanda Symon is such a brilliant writer who brings something really fresh to crime fiction, a genre that I read a lot of but Vanda’s books really do stand out in the crowd.  The Ringmaster is an emotional, powerful and gripping novel. I loved it and highly recommend it!

Many thanks to Orenda for my copy of the book and to Anne for the blog tour invitation. All thoughts are my own.

The Ringmaster is out now and available here.

 

I’ve previously reviewed Overkill, the first book in this series, here.

 

About the Author

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Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series has climbed to number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.

 

 

You can follow the rest of the tour at the following blogs:

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This Week in Books (10 Apr 2019)! What are you reading this week?

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

 

Now

Between the Regions of Kindness by Alice Jolly

I just started reading this last night so am only a few chapters in but it’s grabbed me already and I can’t wait to read more. It’s a long book so I’m hoping to get an afternoon where I can just get completely lost in this story!

Amazing Grace by Kim Nash

This is a wonderful book – it’s a gorgeous novel but it’s ended up being a more cathartic read for me than I was expecting. I think this is going to become a firm favourite of mine!

TWA 800: The Crash, The Cover-Up and The Conspiracy by Jack Cashill

I’ve not read much more of this over the last week or two as I had some books I needed to read first for blog tours. I’m planning to get back to this in the coming days though as I was finding it really interesting.

 

Then

The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon

This book was so good! I loved Vanda Symon’s previous novel and this one is every bit as good! I’ll be reviewing this soon for the blog tour but in the meantime I definitely recommend it.

Adnan’s Story by Rabia Chaudry

I’ve had this on audio for a while and seeing the adverts for the new documentary on Sky I decided to listen to it. I found it an interesting book and it definitely gave more insight than I got from listening to Serial. I now need to watch the new documentary asap!

Baxter’s Requiem by Matthew Crow

This book is incredible! I read the whole book in one afternoon as it just pulled me into the story right away and I couldn’t put it down. It’s a beautiful book and I know it’s going to be going onto my favourites shelf! I’m on the blog tour for this so will be reviewing soon for that.

Sleep by C. L. Taylor

I loved this book, it’s my new favourite by Cally Taylor! It’s so gripping and tense and I couldn’t put it down! I reviewed this one yesterday so you can find my review here if you’d like to know more.

The Innocent Man by John Grisham

I finally made time to finish this book this week and I’m so glad that I went back to it.

 

Next

Breakers by Doug Johnstone

I was sent an ARC of this and it’s calling to me from my TBR so I think I may well pick it up this week, I’m really looking forward to it. Orenda Books can do no wrong in my eyes so I’m sure this will be a great read!

Mindhunter by John Douglas

I’ve had this on my TBR for a few months now and as I’ve finished The Innocent Man I think this might well be my next non-fiction read.

The Neighbour by Fiona Cummins

I’ve been wanting to read this one for a while so I might make this the week I get to it!

The Murder of Harriet Monkton by Elizabeth Haynes

I bought this when it was published last year and have been so keen to read it. Elizabeth Haynes is an auto-buy author for me as I’ve loved all of her books so I’m really keen to read this one soon.


 

 

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in This Week in Books or WWW Wednesday please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂

Stacking the Shelves with a New Book Haul (16 Mar 2019)!

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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

 

Books I Bought This week

After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry

I’ve been wanting to read this book for absolutely ages so I finally treated myself to it with part of my birthday book voucher. I started reading it yesterday and it’s really hard going in places but it’s so well written. It’s a non-fiction book about the murder of the author’s mother.

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

This has also been on my wish list ever since it was published so when I spotted it on kindle for 99p yesterday I snapped it up. I think this is a book I’ll want to own in physical format but I like having it on kindle too.

The Case of Mary Bell by Gitta Sereny

This is another book that I’ve been intrigued by for a while and finally bought it this week. I’ll need to be in the right frame of mind to read this one but I hope to get to it soon.

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

I haven’t read any Diane Chamberlain for absolutely ages but this new one really appeals to me so I grabbed a copy. I don’t think I’ll be long getting to this one.

Operation Lighthouse by Luke Hart and Ryan Hart

I can’t remember where I read an excellent review of this book fairly recently but the title stuck in my head and when I saw it on the kindle daily deal yesterday I snapped it up.

Perfect Remains by Helen Fields

This is a recent audio book purchase from Audible. It was on a daily deal as I already have the second and third in the series on my TBR it seemed perfect timing to grab the first one. I can’t wait to get started on this series!

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

This was another Audible daily deal purchase. I’ve enjoyed other Kate Morton books on audio so I’m really looking forward to this one.

 

Books I Borrowed This Week

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Hold My Hand by M. J. Ford

I borrowed the audio book of this from my audio book subscription service after reading Meggy’s fab review of the second book in the series. I’ve already listened to this whole book and I loved it so I plan on borrowing the second book very soon!

 

ARCS I Received This Week

The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon

I was so excited to open a package yesterday and find The Ringmaster inside! I read and reviewed the first book in this series last year and it was brilliant. I can’t wait to read this next installment!

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

This book also arrived yesterday and I squealed when I saw it! I’m a massive fan of Louise Beech’s writing and have been eagerly anticipating this book. I’ll be reading this one very, very soon!

 


 

Have you bought any new books over the last week? Please tell me below. 🙂 If you join in with Stacking the Shelves please feel free to leave your link and I’ll make sure to read and comment on your post.