Sunday, January 19, 2020

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

  

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This is the fourth novel by Lisa Jewell I have read and obviously I am now a true fan.  I love the way she weaves a story and makes you care about characters.  They come to life and I found myself invested in the outcomes, good or bad.  Didn’t matter if there were a few unlikable characters, I needed to see what would happen.  Let’s face it, you have to have a few villainous  characters or there wouldn’t be tension.

The house in question here is a lovely place in the Cotswolds, home of the Bird family.  Colin and Lorelei Bird have four children.  Megan, Bethann, Rory and Rhys.  We journey through their lives and the drama unfolds over the years.  We meet the children when they are small and by the end of the book they are middle aged.

This book addresses the mental illness of a hoarder and what it does to a family.  It was distressing to watch Lorelei at times; I felt such empathy for Megan and Bethann and developed a dislike of Megan’s partner Bill after a bit.  Rory was a product of his environment and Rhys….I won’t spoil that part because it’s integral to the way everyone’s lives play out.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Hidden Depths and Silent Voices by Ann Cleeves

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I have been hooked on this series since the start.  I did manage to start with the first book in the series this time.  Seems my nontraditional way of moving through a series is starting with book three or so.

What I like about this series is the main character isn’t a polished, slender buxom know-it-all. You know the type, the super hero femme fatale detectives.   No, Vera Stanhope is very bright but also damaged.  Once you get into the books you’ll know her father Hector did a number on her.  Her mother died when Vera was a child and Hector was an awful father figure.  Dragging her off to the wilds for illegal harvesting of rare bird eggs, drinking to excess and leaving her to fend for herself,  putting her down in regard to her looks and clumsiness.  It’s a wonder she shaped up to be a such an outwardly strong character.

Beneath that hard shell she has her unguarded vulnerable emotions. They rarely make an appearance but you’ll glimpse that repressed soft side.  She looks wistfully at families, at a mother pulling her daughter tightly to her in a loving embrace.  And then she shakes it off and has a drink, doesn’t allow herself to wallow in what may have been.  But I didn’t mean to start with a  disection of Vera’s psychological baggage.

Book 3 – Hidden Depths.  Julie Armstrong comes home from a well deserved night out with friends and finds her teen son Luke dead in the bathtub.  He’s been murdered,  placed him in the bath with floral bath oils and delicate flowers. Obviously Vera and her team arrive to investigate.  Then another body is found in the same stylized manner.  A beautiful young teacher is discovered in a rock pool, floating in the water with flowers surrounding her body.  Serial killer or a copy cat killer? Enough twists in this one that I would have bet money on one particlar person as the killer but – I was completely off mark.  That’s fun for me as a reader.

Book 4 – Silent Voices. If you didn’t love Vera’s right hand man Sgt. Joe Ashworth before,  this story will cinch it.   I hope Joe remains in all the upcoming books.  Vera keeps it a secret that she has joined a health club as she doesn’t want to be ribbed at work.  She is a large clumsy woman and after a warning from her doctor about her weight, she takes to swimming.

As she enters the sauna room one morning she sees a woman slumped over.  Jenny Lister, social worker and model citizen, was strangled.  Of course we get another murder case in this book and Vera’s team works feverishly to find the links in the two cases.  We meet some interesting characters in this book and I couldn’t put it down.

Taking a Vera Stanhope break just now as book #5 (The Glass Room) has a wait list at the library.  I won’t be able to finish it before the due date so I will give other patrons their chance.  That will teach me to check out too many at once. Maybe.

I still have a few good books given to me via NetGalley so while I won’t be in lovely Northumbria England, I will be visiting Cornwall and Wales next.  Via books of course 🙂

Normal People by Sally Rooney

  The beginning of the story unfolds in Carricklea, Sligo in western Ireland. Our main characters are Connell and Marianne and they are you...