I can’t believe it’s that time again! And yet again, the choice wasn’t easy. It’s been a good reading/listening year with lots of fabulous books, and so, after much deliberation and in no particular order, here are my top reads/listens for this year.
Clicking on the book cover takes you to Amazon UK. Other links are included in the full review.
The Chalk Pit ~ Elly Griffiths
The Chalk Pit finds Ruth investigating the discovery of bones in the chalk tunnels below Norwich, excavating and testing the bones to calculate their age. They appears to more recent than anticipated and DCI Nelson is called into the investigation. Running concurrently is the police investigation into the disappearance and murders of rough sleepers in the Kings Lynn area. The plight of the homeless, the unpredictable nature of their situation, how they are viewed by others is a main focus of the storyline and was approached objectively, with thoughtfulness. The concept of an underground community and history of the Norwich tunnels is sad and fascinating at the same time and the combination of social and criminal issues, plus historical facts works well.
***** Continue reading
- Author: Judith Barrow
- Published: August 2017 by Honno Press
- Category: Historical Fiction, Book Review, Books
It’s 1911 and Winifred Duffy is a determined young woman eager for new experiences, for a life beyond the grocer’s shop counter ruled over by her domineering mother.
The scars of Bill Howarth’s troubled childhood linger. The only light in his life comes from a chance encounter with Winifred, the girl he determines to make his wife.
The prequel to the Pattern of Shadows series, A Hundred Tiny Threads explores the lives of Winifred Duffy and Bill Howarth up to the beginning of their lives together. Winifred lives with her mother, the very unpleasant Ethel, and her much nicer and long suffering father, and works in the family’s grocery shop. Winifred is an innocent, leading a very sheltered life ruled by her mother. Until the day Honora O’Reilly enters her life with her independence and talk of a better life for women, persuading Winifred to join the Suffragette movement. That, and meeting Conal, Honora’s brother, changed Winifred’s life in ways she could never have envisioned.
- Author: Judith Barrow
- Kindle Edition published June 2017
- Category: Short Stories, Historical, Fiction, Book Review, Books, Reading
Ashford, home of the Howarth family, is a gritty northern mill town, a community of no-nonsense Lancashire folk, who speak their minds and are quick to judge. But how many of them are hiding secrets that wouldn’t stand up to the scrutiny of others?
This is a wonderful collection of short stories, focussing on characters from Judith Barrow’s Howarth family trilogy and giving a brief but heartfelt glimpse into some of their lives, pre saga. Including situations and misfortunes, some of which were brought about by the restrictions and expectations of the time, unmarried women who have no choice but to give up their baby and the cruelty meted out to a conscientious objector to name just a couple. Others which are sadly still relevant today, namely the victims of incest and rape. Continue reading
It’s all on twelve months since I first wrote about my favourite opening lines, so I reckon I’ve read enough books to warrant another selection. So in no particular order, here they are. Clicking on the book title will take you to my review if you’d like more info.
Mabel had known there would be silence. That was the point, after all. No infants cooing or wailing. No neighbour children playfully hollering down the lane. No pad of small feet on wooden stairs worn smooth by generations, or clackety-clack of toys along the kitchen floor. All those sounds of her failure and regret would be left behind, and in their place there would be silence.
Lowcountry Punch by Boo Walker
The Miami I knew wasn’t all G-strings and mojitos. We were undercover, working our way up the stairs of a parking garage in the Latin Quarter, minutes from a cocaine exchange, with no backup. We’d been trying to get to whoever was up there for two weeks and needed to make arrests. I’d be damned if we were going to let them walk away just because there hadn’t been a chance to call it in. Continue reading
A tough choice, I’ve read lots a great books this year and, in no particular order (as they say) here are my top 20 reads. They are all rated either 4.5 or 5 stars. Clicking on the cover links to Amazon UK.
As Mark finds out, many people including himself, carry Neanderthal genes although he’ll never know for sure the exact circumstances that brought about this occurrence. But it signifies that Early Modern Man didn’t take the place of extinct Neanderthals but rather the races mixed and interbred, which is proved by the presence of Neanderthal DNA in present day man. It’s such an interesting approach to how life might have been all those years ago, and even more so because it’s a very credible scenario.
A wonderfully researched, dramatic and detailed narrative sets the scene for forthcoming instalments of The Replacement Chronicles, which I look forward to following.
This is a very well crafted story with perfect pacing, the drama unfolds with consistency to keep the narrative flowing effortlessly. The characters are well-developed and real, Lane especially, but all the personalities are drawn brilliantly, whether you love or loathe them. I think this story covers every eventuality with action, of which there is plenty, greed, deception, horror and sadness. Balancing out the negatives are loyalty, a touch of romance and truthfulness. And the promise of satisfactory karma for the villain of the piece. It’s graphic, gruesome, gritty….and great!
- Author: Judith Barrow
- Published: July 2015 by Honno Welsh Women’s Press
- Category: Historical Fiction
It’s 1969 and Mary Schormann is living quietly in Wales with her ex-POW husband, Peter, and her teenage twins, Richard and Victoria.
Her niece, Linda Booth, is a nurse – following in Mary’s footsteps – and works in the maternity ward of her local hospital in Lancashire.
At the end of a long night shift, a bullying new father visits the maternity ward and brings back Linda’s darkest nightmares, her terror of being locked in. Who is this man, and why does he scare her so?
There are secrets dating back to the war that still haunt the family, and finding out what lies at their root might be the only way Linda can escape their murderous consequences.
The third and final part of the trilogy picks up the story in the late 1960’s and concentrates on the next generation. Peter and Mary Schormann are still living in Wales with their teenage twins, Richard and Victoria. Richard has gone into medicine, taking after his father, and not letting his hearing problems hinder his career or his life. He is staying with his aunt and uncle in Ashford while he attends interviews for the university hospital in Manchester. He’s rescued from a potentially dangerous situation by Karen Worth who proves to be a catalyst in the story. Continue reading
- Author: Judith Barrow
- Published: May 2013 by Honno Press
- Category: Historical Fiction
In May 1950, Britain is struggling with the hardships of rationing and the aftermath of the Second World War. Peter Schormann, a German ex-prisoner of war, has left his home country to be with Mary Howarth, matron of a small hospital in Wales. The two met when Mary was a nurse at the POW camp hospital. They intend to marry, but the memory of Frank Shuttleworth, an ex-boyfriend of Mary’s, continues to haunt them and there are many obstacles in the way of their happiness, not the least of which is Mary’s troubled family. When tragedy strikes, Mary hopes it will unite her siblings, but it is only when a child disappears that the whole family pulls together to save one of their own from a common enemy.
Changing Patterns continues the story of Mary Howarth and her family in the post WWII years. At the close of Pattern of Shadows, Mary, her brother Tom and their mother had moved from Ashford in the North of England, to Wales. Mary believed her ill-fated liaison with the German doctor and POW Peter Schormann was over until he turned up on her doorstep five years later. The war may be over but prejudice and danger still linger on, even in a small Welsh village. Continue reading
There are many books in my review list and I’m looking forward to these forthcoming reads.
’50 YEARS OF MEMORIES ARE HIDDEN IN THE WALLS OF THE LOFT…
Annie only needs to find one… the one that will save Oliver’s life.
On the day of their wedding, Annie saw nothing but happiness ahead, but when an accident calls her back to Memory House, her world is changed forever. Ophelia Browne, the woman who taught Annie to find the memories in a forgotten object, is leaving the house and she’s leaving all those powerful memories behind.
After only three nights in the loft, Annie must now find the single most meaningful memory in Oliver’s mind. If she finds it in time, she can save his life, if she doesn’t…well that’s something she can’t afford to think about.
Readers will welcome back the much-loved characters from Memory House and enjoy a few new friends!’
‘After everything, there is peace. The Collective took London away from the gangs that terrorised the city after the plague and the slow terror of the Breakdown. The blood on the streets has dried. There is food, water and good housing. Everyone has work. But the meek have not inherited the earth. On a bitterly cold night a woman is brutalised and murdered, shattering the fragile calm of the city. The investigation of London’s first murder in two years falls to Inspector Timothy Conlan and the District team of the New Metropolitan Police. Tim ‘Con’ Conlan serenely navigates the harsh new London. He is dedicated, conscientious and smiling. Around him society is broken. People are traumatised, fearful and wracked with guilt. Now the dark, empty spaces of the city are being stalked by a monster. Con must find and catch a killer who seems to know his every move. At the same time, there is something rotten at the core of the new government. In the very heart of the Collective, massive lies are being spun. There are rumours of war, whispers of betrayal. The Collective is harsh, relentless and utterly unforgiving. The problem for Con is simple: find the killer; stay alive.’ Continue reading
Thank you, Christoph. And thank you for inviting me here. I feel we’ve known one another quite a while on-line but it was lovely to actually meet you in person at the Tenby Book Fair.
Very likewise, Judith. First up, please tell us about your connection to Wales.
I was born and brought up in a village at the base of the Pennines but I’ve lived in Pembrokeshire for the last thirty-eight years. We came to Tenby on holiday, fell in love with the county, saw a half-built house in a field and, throwing caution to the wind, bought it. Best move we ever made even though we eventually moved in on one of the coldest days I can remember in November, to a house…
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