Containment by Vanda Symon | @OrendaBooks @VandaSymon @annecater

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Chaos reigns in the sleepy village of Aramoana on the New Zealand coast, when a series of shipping containers wash up on the beach and looting begins.

Detective Constable Sam Shephard experiences the desperation of the scavengers first-hand, and ends up in an ambulance, nursing her wounds and puzzling over an assault that left her assailant for dead.

What appears to be a clear-cut case of a cargo ship running aground soon takes a more sinister turn when a skull is found in the sand, and the body of a diver is pulled from the sea … a diver who didn’t die of drowning…

As first officer at the scene, Sam is handed the case, much to the displeasure of her superiors, and she must put together an increasingly confusing series of clues to get to the bottom of a mystery that may still have more victims…

 

I loved the first two books in this series so have been eagerly anticipating this next book and I’m so happy to say that I loved Containment every bit as much, if not even more, than the previous two. I adore Sam Shephard, she’s now one of my most favourite characters ever and I love spending time with her and finding out what she’s up to!

Containment is a brilliant crime novel. Sam finds herself in the midst of having to police looting on a beach after a cargo ship runs aground and containers are washed ashore. This leads to her being assaulted and then soon after finding herself investigating what happened to a man found dead in the water. This is only the start of the story though!

Alongside her work Sam is trying to figure out her love life and I found Sam so relatable. She’s involved with a man who really likes her and she likes him but still she just can’t quite commit. She’s not sure, and she’s not sure why she’s not sure. At times I wanted to shake her and tell her to give him a chance but at the same time I could totally see why she was reluctant. I also love Sam’s friendship with Maggie, they’re so close and Maggie can be brutally honest with Sam but she loves her regardless of whether she agrees with her not. It makes me wish I had a Maggie in my life!

There is a character in this book who has obvious physical disabilities and I loved his scenes with Sam. We live in a very politically correct world but people who aren’t disabled don’t always take account of how disabled people see themselves or how they’re happy to be seen by others. I found him, and how he was written, so refreshing and so brilliant. Bravo to Vanda for this!

I love Vanda Symon’s writing – she captures people in such a believable and real way. Whilst Sam is high as a kite on pain meds there are some scenes that had me properly laughing out loud, yet it never takes away from the seriousness of what is happening. I adore writing that captures life like this.

The setting of Vanda Symon’s novels are so brilliantly described too. She brings Dunedin, and in this novel Aramoana to life for me. I’ve never been to New Zealand but I can envisage the places so clearly, Vanda’s writing makes a movie in my head and now I feel like I’ve been there!

Containment is a brilliant crime novel – it has darkness and humour, brilliant characters and fabulous writing! I highly recommend this book (and the whole series)!

Containment is out now in ebook and paperback here.

 

I’m really unwell at the moment and my concentration isn’t good so I apologise in for this review being shorter and lesser than I would have liked to write for this brilliant book.

 

Many thanks to Anne and Orenda Books for my ecopy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

 

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

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WWW Wednesdays! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 


 

My health is really wobbly at the moment so these WWW Wednesdays posts are about all I can manage just now. I am on a couple of blog tours next week that have been planned for a while so I will be posting reviews for those books but other than that it might just be WWW Wednesdays for a while. My concentration is rubbish so I’ve barely read anything at all this week, I miss my books so hopefully things settle down soon.

Apologies for not replying to comments or visiting and commenting on your blogs, I hope to be back to normal soon. In the meantime I do appreciate all of you who continue to read and comment and share my posts. 

 

What I’m reading now: 

Containment by Vanda Symon

I love this series so have been really looking forward to the latest book and I’m so happy to say that I’m loving it. I wish I could concentrate better as I know I would have devoured this normally but it’s still such a good read. Sam Shephard is such a brilliant character!

Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear

I’ve been reading a chapter here and there of this one and am enjoying it. Again, I just can’t concentrate for more than a few minutes but that’s no reflection on the book.

The Recovery of Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

This is such a good read and one that I am enjoying coming back to, I’m intrigued to see how it’s all going to end!

 

What I recently finished reading:

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You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce

I read this on the Pigeonhole app (where they send you a few chapters to read each day) and it was a perfect way to read this book while struggling to concentrate as each stave was enough to keep me engaged and always left me wanting more. This was such a different novel to what I was expecting but it was brilliant, I loved it!

 

What I plan on reading next:

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

This has been on my Kindle TBR for seven years so when I spotted it on Borrowbox I decided to download it so I could part listen and part read it. I’m really looking forward to starting this one.

Dead Wrong by Noelle Holten

I’m on the blog tour for this one next week so definitely need to pick it up in the next couple of days. I loved the first book in the series so I’m sure I’m going to love this one too!

 

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

WWW Wednesdays! What are you reading at the moment?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

What I’m reading now: 

Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear

I only started this last night but I’m already gripped. I love thrillers where the past has something to do with what’s happening in the present so this is my kind of book!

You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce

I’m reading this one on the Pigeonhole app and am really enjoying it. It’s not what I was expecting it to be but I’m so glad I got to read it because it’s so good and I’m so keen for the next part to be released so I can find out what happens next!

The Recovery of Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

I’m still reading this one and still very much enjoying it. I’m intrigued to know how things are going to play out between this mother and daughter!

 

What I recently finished reading:

Second Life by S. J. Watson

I’ve had the ebook of this ever since it was first published but I finally started it this week when I got the audio book from BorrowBox. I’m sad to say that I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the author’s first novel. I do love his writing though so would always look out for new books by him.

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

I treated myself to this one and read it right away as I’ve got into a bit of a reading slump recently. I’m not feeling well at all and so my reading is suffering but this book grabbed me from the off and I really enjoyed it.

Notes to Self by Emilie Pine

I picked this up as it was short and being as it’s essays I thought I could dip in and out of it. As it turned out I devoured it! I’ve seen that this has got a lot of negative reviews but I loved it, I could identify with a lot of what the author has been through and it made me feel seen.

 

What I plan on reading next:

Containment by Vanda Symon

I’m on a blog tour for this one later this month so am really keen to start reading this one in good time. I adored Vanda Symon’s previous books so have very high hopes for this one!

Dead Wrong by Noelle Holten

I’m also taking part in the blog tour for this one and am so looking forward to reading this one. Noelle’s first novel was excellent and I feel sure this one will be every bit as good!

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

I’ve read some fab reviews of this book this week so it’s made me really want to read it so hopefully I’ll be able to get to it this week!

 

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

It’s Reading Bingo Time! Will it be a full house for 2019? #ReadingBingo

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I’ve really enjoyed doing Reading Bingo over the last couple of years so couldn’t resist the chance to see whether I’d successfully filled in my bingo card for 2019. As ever, I don’t look at the bingo card during the year I just read what I want to read and then at the end of the year look through my reading to see if I’ve managed a full house.

So without further ado…

A Book With More Than 500 Pages

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A Question of Trust by Penny Vincenzi

A Forgotten Classic

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Middlemarch by George Eliot!

This obviously isn’t a forgotten classic so I’m cheating a bit here but I’m counting it because it kind of was a forgotten book on my TBR as I’ve owned it ever since I was a teenager but had never read it before 2019, which is shameful especially as when I finally read it I loved it!

A Book That Became a Movie

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The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

A Book Published This Year

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Dead Inside by Noelle Holten (Click here for my review!)

A Book With a Number in the Title

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55 by James Delargy (Click here for my review!)

A Book Written By Someone Under 30

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The Last by Hanna Jameson (Click here for my review!)

A Book With Non Human Characters

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Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis-Goff (Click here for my review!)

A Funny Book

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Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

A Book By A Female Author

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The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby(Click here for my review!)

A Book With a Mystery

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Alice Teale is Missing by H. A. Linskey (Click here for my review!)

A Book With A One Word Title

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Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard (Click here for my review!)

A Book of Short Stories

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When Stars Will Shine by Emma Mitchell (Click here for my review!)

Free Square

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Ideal Angels by Robert Welbourn (Click here for my review!)

A Book Set on a Different Continent

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The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes (Click here for my review!)

A Book of Non Fiction

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After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry

The First Book By A Favourite Author

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Amazing Grace by Kim Nash (Click here for my review!)

A Book You Heard About Online

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How To Say Goodbye by Katy Colins (Click here for my review!)

A Best-Selling Book

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The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

A Book Based on a True Story

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The Closer I Get by Paul Burston(Click here for my review!)

A Book At The Bottom of Your TBR Pile

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Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

A Book Your Friend Loves

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Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid(Click here for my review!)

A Book that Scares You

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The Wayward Girls by Amanda Mason(Click here for my review!)

A Book That Is More Than Ten Years Old

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The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

The Second Book In A Series

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The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon (Click here for my review!)

A Book With a Blue Cover

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Not Having It All by Jennie Ensor (Click here for my review!)

 

So if I can get away with my cheat on Middlemarch then I’ve achieved a full house! Woo Hoo! I do love doing this every year, it’s so nice to look back over my reading and pick books for categories different to just which are my favourite reads. If you do Reading Bingo please link to your post below as I love reading these posts. 🙂

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. 🙂

#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.

My Favourite Novels of 2018!

My Favourite Books 0f 2018!

Firstly, happy new year to you all! I hope 2019 brings you good health, peace and happiness!

2018 has been an amazing reading year for me. I read 290 books, which is the most I’ve read in one year since I started keeping track of my reading! Of the 290, 211 were fiction so that has made it so hard to pick a top 10 or even a top 20 so in the end I made a list of the books that have stayed with me the most and 27 novels have made my list! (My non-fiction picks will be in a separate post tomorrow).

Some of these books have stayed with me because they were well-written, some were impossible to put down and others brought out such an emotional reaction in me that they simply had to be on this list.

So without further ado, here are my favourite books of 2018 (click the title if you’d like to read my full review on each of these books)…

 

In reverse order: 

27. Dead in Venice by Fiona Leitch

This is one of the best audio books I listened to this year and had to be on my list as it’s really stick with me.

26. The Lingering by SJI Holliday

This was an unsettling, creepy novel that I couldn’t put down!

25. You Let Me In by Lucy Clarke

I love Lucy Clarke’s writing and this has joined The Sea Sisters as my favourite books by her!

24. The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

This was such a different read for me and I utterly adored it.

23. Perfect Bones by AJ Waines

This is a crime fiction novel that haunted me in the times when I wasn’t reading it, it definitely earned its place on my list.

22. The Date by Louise Jensen

I love Louise Jensen’s writing and this book was another brilliant read by her. It gave me an insight into a condition I knew nothing much about and the ending of the book gave me chills!

21. An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

I read this book in one sitting on a boiling hot day but the writing was so good that I could feel the snowy cold and the oppressive atmosphere of those trapped in the hotel with a murderer on the loose!

20. Odette by Jessica Duchen

This is such a beautiful book and it really resonated with me so it had to be on this list!

19. Attend by West Camel

This is a recent read but I keep finding myself thinking about the characters and it’s staying in my mind so I had to have this in my top books.

18. Daisy Belle by Caitlin Davies

This is a wonderful story about a young girl who wants to make it as a champion swimmer in a time when it’s not the done thing for females. It’s inspiring and beautiful and I knew it would make my top books of the year as soon as I finished reading it.

17. The Afterlife of Walter Augustus by Hannah M. Lynn

This is a bit different from my usual reads but it’s so beautiful and very moving in places and I still think about it.

16. Old Baggage by Lissa Evans

This was such a brilliant novel, and is another book that really has stayed with me.

 

15. The Girl in His Eyes by Jennie Ensor

This was a very prescient and moving novel, and while it was hard to read at times for me personally the writing is so sensitive and honest that I couldn’t put it down.

14. Fukushima Dreams by Zelda Rhiando

I wasn’t expecting to love this book as much as I did but it’s so stunningly written and the story is still swirling in my mind. It was an unforgettable read for me and deserves its place on my list.

13. Narcissism for Beginners by Martine McDonagh

This is another book that was a bit different to my usual read but I devoured it. It’s funny and emotional and I adored it.

12. Good Samaritans by Will Carver

This is such a brilliant read, one I’ve been recommending to people ever since I finished reading it.

11. Overkill by Vanda Symon

This is my new favourite crime thriller series and I’m desperate to get my hands on the second book as soon as it’s out!

10. Him by Clare Empson

I got this book on a whim from NetGalley and I’m so glad I did. This really got under my skin and I couldn’t put it down until I’d read all the way to the end.

9. Miss Marley by Vanessa LaFaye with Rebecca Mascull

This is the only book on this list that I haven’t managed to review but I highly recommend it. It’s gorgeous and moving and just brilliant. It honours A Christmas Carol so beautifully whilst also standing on its own as a novella. The final couple of chapters were incredibly moving. I know this will be a book that I read every Christmas from now on so it absolutely deserves to be on this list.

8. Roar by Cecelia Ahern

This short story collection is brilliant. I loved every story and enjoyed finding the ones that resonated with me. It’s fabulous!

7. Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

This is such a magical and lyrical novel, it’s another book that is staying with me and I know I’ll want to read it again in the future.

6. The Long Forgotten by David Whitehouse 

I was looking forward to reading this novel but I wasn’t expecting it to get to me in the way it did. It’s very moving and so fascinating, and the writing is stunning.

5. Snap by Belinda Bauer

This was my favourite crime thriller of the year, I loved it. I don’t think I’ve read a crime novel before that has made me cry in the way this did. It’s such a brilliant novel.

4. Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

This novel really connected with me in so many ways and my review ended up being very personal as the story got so entwined with my emotions at the time I was reading. It’s a beautiful novel and I urge you to read it if you haven’t already.

 

 

Love and Fame Cover

3. Love and Fame by Susie Boyt

This book is why I love blog tours – I was offered a copy of Love and Fame, a book I hadn’t heard of before and decided to give it a go. It’s such a witty, funny and moving novel about grief and loss in various forms. I absolutely fell in love with this book and it’s one I consider to be a firm favourite. I’m so glad this book found me!

 

 

And the next two books are jointly my favourite books of the year because I just couldn’t pick between them…

 

 

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech

I adore Louise Beech’s writing anyway but The Lion Tamer Who Lost stole my heart in a way that no other book has done in 2018. I keep thinking of the characters and wondering how they are, I keep thinking of how cruel life can be but how a novel like this does ultimately remind you why you need to keep going. I cried buckets reading parts of this book but I fell in love with it and it absolutely deserves this number one spot!

 

Let Me Be Like Water by S. K. Perry

I hadn’t heard of this book before a copy got sent to me for review but it was serendipity that it came into my life at the perfect moment. This is such a beautiful, lyrical novel that had me sobbing one moment and feeling consoled the next. The characters are wonderful and the depiction of grief is so real, as is the way we find a way to start living with grief. A stunning book that I will treasure forever and ever!

 


Tomorrow I’ll be sharing my Top Non-Fiction books of the year so look out for that then. In the meantime what were your favourite books of 2018? If you have a blog post please feel free to leave the link below. Happy New Year! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

#BookReview: Overkill by Vanda Symon @vandasymon @OrendaBooks #NewZealandNoir

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About the Book

When the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic suicide. But all is not what it seems.
Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura, soon discovers the death was no suicide and has to face the realisation that there is a killer in town. To complicate the situation, the murdered woman was the wife of her former lover. When Sam finds herself on the list of suspects and suspended from duty, she must cast aside her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands.
To find the murderer … and clear her name.

 

My Thoughts

I was delighted to be invited to take part in the blog tour for Overkill as it sounded like such an intriguing novel. I do love a crime novel with a great lead character investigating the crime and I’m so happy to say that I loved this book.

Overkill opens with one of the most shocking and devastating prologues that I think I’ve ever read. Gabby is home with her baby girl when a man calls round to supposedly repair the phone line. He very soon makes it clear that Gabby is not going to get out of this situation alive but if she co-operates he will spare her daughter. We then follow Constable Sam Shephard as she investigates what is at first believed to be Gabby’s suicide but suspicions are quickly aroused that she may have been murdered.

I had goosebumps reading the opening of this book and I knew it was going to be a novel that I wouldn’t be able to put down. This is the first novel that I’ve read in a really long time that made me feel proper fear and horror at the situation a character was in; it’s such great writing that can make you have such a reaction to words on a page. For all the brutality of the prologue I needed to keep reading because the beautiful writing had me hooked.  I ended up reading this book in two sittings (and the only reason it wasn’t one sitting was because somewhere around 1am I fell asleep with my kindle in my hand!).

I love Sam Shephard! She is such a great, feisty character – she is a local woman and everyone knows her and likes her but she has her flaws. She’s passionate about her job in the police and can’t let it go when she is sure of the lead she’s following. Her emotions get the better of her at times during this novel but I could always understand why she was upset or angry and so kept on rooting for her. I believe this book is the first in a series and so I’m already very keen to see what Sam does next! I feel like Sam Shepherd could be just the character to fill the Kinsey Millhone shaped hole in my life!

There is a great sense of place in this novel. I’ve never been to New Zealand but Overkill gives such a sense of the place and I could visualise all the locations in the book. There are some great characters in this book but also a real claustrophobic feel to how everyone knows each other and nothing seems to be private. The locals are quick to close ranks but there is a warmth among them too. The moments of humour really balance the darker aspects in this novel and I very much appreciated that. Life is full of dark and light and a book that captures that is a wonderful thing to find!

I had no idea whodunnit until Sam was on the killer’s trail, it felt all the way through the book like I was along with her as she tried to put all the pieces together. I love that it kept me in suspense with all its twists and turns, and the red herrings along the way. This is such a compelling and readable book.

Overkill is fast-paced, twisty and impossible to put down! I think this might be one of my favourite crime novels of the year and I’m sure it’s a book that will stay with me. I’ve definitely found a new favourite character in Sam! This is absolutely a five star read and I highly recommend it!

I received a copy of this book from Random Things Tours & Orenda Books. All thoughts are my own.

Overkill is out now in ebook and can be pre-ordered in paperback here.

 

About the Author

Vanda’s first novel Overkill, was written while juggling the demands of a 6 month old baby and a two year old. She suspects the prologue to Overkill was written in a state of sleep deprivation induced paranoia brought about by middle of the night feeds and imagining every awful thing that could possibly happen to her family. None of them ever did. Reading that prologue still makes her cry.

A little time has elapsed and the six-month old and two-year old are now teenagers. As well as trying to raise two wonderful human beings, she has added three more Detective Sam Shephard novels to the series and written the stand alone psychological thriller The Faceless.

As well as being a crime writer, she hosts a monthly radio show on Dunedin’s Otago Access Radio called Write On, where she interviews local writers, and catches the odd international super-star if they’re in town.

And just to prove that she is a tiger for punishment, she has recently completed a PhD at the University of Otago looking at the communication of science through crime fiction – the perfect subject for a science loving crime writer. She has an undergraduate degree in Pharmacy and enjoyed a career as a community pharmacist and palliative care pharmacist before concentrating on her writing career.

Vanda has been involved with the New Zealand Society of Authors for many years, having been chair of the Otago Southland Branch. She is currently the Otago Southland regional delegate on the NZSA Board. Vanda was also the Chair of Copyright Licensing New Zealand.

When she isn’t writing, Vanda can be found digging around in her garden in Dunedin, or on the business end of a fencing foil. She has fenced since high school and still competes in national and international competitions. As well as competing she coaches, and because she likes to get involved, boots and all, is the president of Fencing South and on the board of Fencing New Zealand.

Vanda is a founding member of the Dunedin Crime Writers Association, whose raison d’etre is for its members to drink beer or wine and talk crime writing at their favourite pub.

(Author bio taken from: VandaSymon.com)

You can follow the rest of the blog tour at these stops:

Overkill Blog Tour Poster

This Week in Books (1 Aug 2018)! #TWiB

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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 

No Place Like Home by Rebecca Muddiman

I was delighted to be sent a copy of this book as I love Rebecca Muddiman’s writing. This is a standalone novel and it’s so intriguing. I started it last night and I have no idea where the story is going to go, which I’m loving!

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

I’m still finding this book really interesting but it’s a book that I feel I need time to digest so I’m reading it a chapter at a time and taking time in between to mull over what I’ve read.

 

Then 

Old Baggage by Lissa Evans

I adored this book! I’m mid-way through writing my review but I always find it hardest to review the books I’ve loved. This was one of those novels that I never wanted to end because I was enjoying it so much. I definitely recommend it.

You Let Me In by Lucy Clarke

I’m a big fan of Lucy Clarke’s writing – her first novel Sea Sisters is one of my favourite books so I always eagerly anticipate her latest. I spotted this one on NetGalley the other day and immediately downloaded it. I read it over the weekend and really enjoyed it. It kept me on my toes and I was gripped from start to finish!

Baby Doll by Hollie Overton

I’ve had this book on my TBR for a couple of years now and finally picked it up this week. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really a book for me and I didn’t really enjoy it. It was fast-paced but the story was just didn’t grab me as much as I wanted it to.

Boy Erased by Garrard Conley

I listened to the audio book of this over a couple of days and found it such a fascinating memoir. It was hard to listen to at times but I’m so glad that I finally got to this. I believe that it’s been made into a film very soon so I’ll be looking out for that.

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

I’ve had this on my TBR since last year and am kicking myself for not picking it up sooner as I loved this book. It was dark and gripping and so believable. I’m definitely going to be reading more of Attica Locke’s novels soon.

Illusion of JusticeL: Inside Making A Murderer and America’s Broken System by Jerome F. Buting

My husband and I binge-watched The Staircase on Netflix recently and when it finished were looking around for something similar. We discovered Making a Murderer (I know, we’re so late getting to this) and we were both shocked at how the case was prosecuted. Once we’d finished I wanted to know more about the case and the American court system and this was the book I found. This was a fascinating book and so well-written, I absolutely recommend it.

 

Next

The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

I’ve seen fab reviews of this book on some of my favourite blogs recently so have been wanting to read this one. I was thrilled when the publisher contacted me and offered me a copy and I can’t wait to get started reading it.

Overkill by Vanda Symon

This is another book that I was sent from the publisher and I’m so keen to read it. It sounds like my kind of read!

One Click by Andrea Mara

I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages so when I spotted it on my Kindle Unlimited subscription I downloaded it right away. It sounds like a fab summer thriller so I’m hoping I can get to it this week.

 


 

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. 🙂