Wednesday, 28 October 2009

My old blog

I discovered the other day, quite by chance, that my old blog Willow House has been taken over by advertisements, the latest being for some company that organizes murder mystery themed parties no less.

Needless to say I'm not exactly over the moon with this development and had I realised that Typepad did this when one cancelled one's account I never, ever would have used them as a blogging platform. But of course they don't tell you that when you sign up...

Anyway there is nothing I can do about it now, although I would like to tell everyone that I do not have any association with any of the advertisers and that in no way do I endorse their products.

Absolutely no way!

Oh and if you still have Willow House on your links list you might like to delete it.

Friday, 2 October 2009

A Grave Man A murder mystery featuring Lord Edward Corinth and Verity Browne by David Roberts

ISBN-10: 0786715960 ISBN-13: 978-0786715961

I've mentioned before that I like this series of books and this one does not disappoint.
Here's the synopsis from the Lord Edward Corinth website:

"1937. Verity Browne and Lord Edward Corinth attend the Memorial Service in Westminster Abbey for Lord Benyon killed a few months before when the Hindenburg airship burst into flames as it docked in New Jersey. Seated a few rows in front of them in the Abbey is the distinguished archaeologist Professor Pitt-Messanger and his daughter Maud. As the congregation begins to disperse after the service, Edward hears Miss Pitt-Messanger cry for help. Her father is slumped in his seat. When he goes to her aid he finds that the Professor has been stabbed to death with an ancient Assyrian dagger.
Edward has no wish to investigate the murder but Verity gets herself invited to Swifts Hill, the ultra-modern house in Kent belonging to the millionaire Sir Simon Castlewood. His wife, Virginia, is one of Verity’s few school friends and she is looking after the grieving Maud. Verity quickly discovers that Pitt-Messanger was a selfish bully who made his daughter’s life a misery and prevented her marrying the man she loved.
By coincidence, Winston Churchill asks Edward to investigate the Castlewood Foundation which Sir Simon has set up to fund worthy projects including medical research. Churchill has received information that Sir Simon’s protégé, the eminent surgeon Dominic Montillo, is using the Foundation to fund research into the so-called science of eugenics which pretends to distinguish between racial types. No less a personage than Reichsführer Himmler is interested in pursuing the idea of racial purity through selective breeding.
When Maud Pitt-Messanger is herself stabbed to death with a dagger from Sir Simon’s archaeological museum, Edward and Verity join forces to find her killer but Verity’s dislike of Mr Churchill and her growing attraction to the young German, Adam von Trott, drives a wedge between them which brings them both unhappiness and endangers the investigation."

It's excellent , there is a real sense of impending doom as WWII slips ever closer. I highly recommend this book.

The Death Maze by Ariana Franklin

ISBN-10: 0593056515 ISBN-13: 978-0593056516
"Deep midwinter 1172, and an assassin is on the loose..."
The second of Franklin's books featuring the Scilian Adelia Aguilar who is charged with the task of finding the murderer of Henry II's mistress Fair Rosamund.
Great atmosphere you can feel the tention and claustrophobia buiding I'll definetly be looking out for more of Ariana Franklin.

House of Shadows A Historical Mystery by The Medieval Murderers

ISBN-10: 0743295463 ISBN-13: 978-0743295468

Our Medieval Murderers are:
Bernard Knight who writes the Crowner John series
Ian Morston whose detective is William Falconer
Michael Jecks writes the Templar series.
Philip Gooden author of Elizabethan mysteries starring Nick Revill
Susanna Gregory authour of the Matthew Bartholmew and Thonas Chaloner series.

The nedieval Murderers basically each write a short story around a given theme which is then pulled together with a prologue and epilogue. I've read a few of these and they are usually entertaining with some of the stories being more interesting tham others. This one is set in Bermondsey Priory and I'm afraid I found the introduction of a golem a little far fetched!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

The Blood Pit by Kate Ellis

ISBN-10: 074990853X ISBN-13: 978-0749908539
I should have stuck with Miss Marple as this book proved a disaster for me. Despite having enjoyed my previous Wesley Peterson murder mystery
I just couldn't "get into " this one. I really did not give a hoot whether the serial killer was brought to justice or not, in fact I just wanted him / her (I never even bothered to find out who it was) to go away. In particular I found their letter's to Wesley's archaeologist friend, Neil Watson, tedious in the extreme. So, I didn't finish the book.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Agatha Christie Week 13th - 20th September

Apparently it's Agatha Christie week, what better excuse do we need to settle down with a favourite Agatha Christie book?

A Miss Marple or a Poirot or maybe a Tommy and Tuppence, which would you choose?

Friday, 21 August 2009

After the Armistice Ball by Catriona McPherson

ISBN-10: 1845291301
ISBN-13: 978-1845291303
"To socialite Dandy Gilver a spot of amateur sleuthing seems like harmless fun. And what could be better than to try and track down the Duffy diamonds, stolen from a country house after the Armistice Ball? Before long though Dandy's innocent pastime is swept away by something much more serious. The untimely death of the lovely Cara Duffy in a seaside cottage is recorded as an accident, but Dandy, and Alec, Cara's fiance, feel sure the Duffy family is hiding a dark secret..."
(Taken from the Dandy Gilver website)
I'm not sure what I was more charmed by, the website or the book, or to be more precise Dandelion Dahlia Gilver herself. I really liked Dandy and Alec, I think in real life we could have been friends.
Do take a look at the website where you'll find extracts from the book and all sorts of useful information such as how to make tomato sandwiches and the care of linen.
Have to say that I agree with the Scotland on Sunday review, 'Society sleuth Dandy Gilver is the most engaging and ingenious crime-cracker I've met in ages'

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

The Inspector Mayo Mysteries by Marjorie Eccles

ISBN-10: 0751538612
ISBN-13: 978-0751538618
Do you remember the BBC series Mayo ?
Wikipedia described it as as a comedy detective drama, as : crime drama, starring Alistair McGowan as a wise-cracking Detective Inspector obsessed with working things out.
I remember it as being quirky and entertaining, the clocks in Mayo's house fascinated me and I was intrigued with the way he used model figures to help him work things out.
The real Inspector Mayo isn't like that, in fact I can't for the life of me understand why the Beeb bought the rights to the books because about the only thing Alistair McGowans' TV Mayo has in common with Marjories Eccles' Mayo is the name.
Having said that there is absolutely nothing wrong with her books, they are grand and you get a compilation of three in this edition:
Cast a Cold Eye
Death of a Good Woman
Requiem For a Dove
All well worth reading just thought I'd warn you not to expect anthing like the TV series.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Retreat From Murder by Marian Babson

ISBN 978-1841199016

Loved this one. I haven't read Marian Babson before but I will be looking out for more of her books.
Our sleuths are a group of mystery writers who live in the village of Brimful Coffers. Their peaceful life is turned upside down by visiting novelists who both use the same historical character in their books, a spate of tragic hit and run incidents, a bitchy chic- lit author and the enforced diet of Roscoe the cat.
A thouroughly entertaining Sunday afternoon read.

Agatha Raisin and The Vicious Vet by M.C.Beaton

ISBN 9781845290818

Love the cover. Though I have to say the Agatha Raisen in my head doesn't look at all like that.

Friends from my old blog, Willow House, will know that I have long enjoyed the writings of M.C.Beaton and after exploring the works of other authors it was wonderful to revisit an old friend.

Don't know how, but somehow or other, I managed to miss this the second of Agatha's adventures. Here she falls for the new vet, who manages to accidentially kill himself. Or does he? The demise of the vicious vet provides the perfect opportunity for Agatha to pursue Mr Lacey, one almost feels sorry for him.

If you too like Agatha Raisen you can read her biography online here

The Plague Maiden A Wesley Peterson murder mystery by Kate Ellis

(ISBN 0749906685)

Loving the library at the moment as it is giving me the opportunity to try loads of different authors without the risk of disapointment. After all if I don't particularly like the book I can just take it back and it hasn't cost me a penny. No guilt, brilliant.

Anyway this one I did like, which was a relief after Inspector Peach from the previous post.

"When a letter arrives at Tradmouth police station claiming that the man convicted of murdering the Vicar of Belsham during the course of a robbery in 1991 is innocent, it causes quite a stir. DI Wesley Peterson, however, already has his hands full when threats are made to local supermarket chain, Huntings, and the last thing he needs is an alleged miscarriage of justice to investigate. But, with political pressure from above, it seems that he has no choice.
Meanwhile archaeologist Neil Watson is surprised to uncover a medieval plague pit at a site near Belsham church earmarked for Huntings' new superstore. And when Neil is attacked, it seems that someone is willing to use violence to ensure that the plague pit keeps its secrets.
As Wesley's investigations continue, he begins to suspect that the vicar's murder, the disappearance of a former Sunday school teacher and the threats to the supermarket my be linked in some way. Then comes the disturbing discovery that the ancient plague pit is home to a more recent resident..."

I liked the characters they are very human with real everyday concerns and I enjoyed the mix of archaeology and murder. I'll certainly be looking out for more of Kate Ellis. Actually I wonder how long it will be before Wesley Peterson hits our television screens?

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Witch's Sabbath by J.M. Gregson

ISBN 0727863428
Bit of a disappointment this one, not that it wasn't a perfectly good murder mystery, the type where the police actually do the investigating rather than eccentric amateurs. But take a look at the bumf from the fly leaf:
"In an area famous for the Lancashire Witches four centuries earlier, it seems that witchcraft still flourishes. When a body is discovered in a derelict farmhouse, it is partly mummified, a pathetic ruin. Although an identity is quickly established, that is only the first of many problems. No one reported this young woman's disappearance when she went missing four months earlier. Most of those who were closest to her, from her former employer to her newly-acquired boyfriend, had reasons to keep quiet. Her flatmate, a woman of her own age, seems to have been very sure that Annie Clark was never going to return. And it appears she was a member of a modern coven, containing both male and female members...
Chief Inspector Percy Peach, Detective Sergeant Lucy Blake and the team, hindered as usual by the direction of Chief Superintendent Thomas Bulstrode Tucker, have one of their most puzzling and compelling mysteries to solve. "
I'm afraid I rather misinterpreted it and thought the book might contain a bit of "spooky" for want of a better word. It doesn't.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

The Lord Edward Corinth and Verity Browne Murder Mysteries by David Roberts

I actually bought Sweet Poison, Bones of the Buried and Hollow Crown for my son in one of those bundles that The Book People do. Unfortunately at the time he was a little young for them and didn't get past the first chapter of Sweet Poison. Sometime later I picked it up and after a slow start I well and truly got into the world of Lord Edward Corinth - 1930s England, between the wars.
I love the fact that the characters get together for a confabulation, a word that is rarely used now days. Actually I think that is what I like most about these David Roberts mysteries, the settings, the time and the little snippets of history both political and social.
If you are interested you can read a synpopsis of all the books on The Lord Edward Corinth and Verity Browne Murder Mysteries website.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Rosemary & Thyme - And No Birds Sing

IISBN 978-0749083410
I didn't realise that there were books as well as the TV series until I found this at my local library. It's written by Brian Eastman the creator of the TV series and that is just what it is the book of the series, well the first episode actually, I think they call books like this "a television tie-in".
It is throughly entertaining, light reading with a little more background as to how our intrepid horticultural sleuths teamed up. It would make a good summer read.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Feb 25th 2009 - Reading

This past month I've spent too much time reading and not enough time doing. (Please tell me that you can never spend too much time reading).
It started with Stephenie Meyer's Twilight trilogy which were actually purchased by my husband from a hospital book stall (the broken thumb incident). He didn't know what he was buying, 3 plain black books without dust covers, he bought them because they were big, 50p each and he thought he had a long wait. Anyway they languished here for some months unread until I suddenly realised what they were and decided to see what all the fuss was about.
Now I understand, the Twilight series is strangley addictive, I might just have to buy the fourth book in the saga.(And no Zoe I'm not in love with Edward I think I'd much prefer Jacob!).
Next came Kathy Reichs Bones to Ashes. I've read several of Kathy Reichs books over the past year, mostly found in charity shops and have found that I far prefer forensic anthropologist Dr Temperance Brennan to Patricia Cornwell's Scarpetta.
Another charity shop find was Missing Joseph, a Elizabeth George Inspector Linley mystery. I'm pretty sure the BBC have dramatised this one, the story was so familiar but there is so much depth to George's characterisation that you just have to carry on reading even when you know the outcome.
I've also found myself delving back into some Agatha Christie's notably Tommy & Tuppence and Miss Marple, oh how I love a good Miss Marple....

April 26th 2008 - Now Reading

I'm halfway through John Berendt's The City of Fallen Angels, his expose of Venice - "behind the exquisite facade of the world's most beautiful historic city, scandal, corruption and venality are rampant, and Berendt is a master at seeking them out". It has taken me a little longer to get into this than his previous book , Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (brilliant title) but I think it may have grabbed me now. Even so I'm finding it a book for dipping into rather than one that makes you want to keep turning the pages.

Bumps in the night - my 2007 Halloween book suggestions

As a child I was terrified of all things supernatural. Even as a teenager I recall having to have an adult accompany me up the stairs and see me safely to bed after I stayed up to watch some ghostly movie or other. But as is so often the case with things that one fears I seem to have developed a morbid fascination with the supernatural and a book with a few bumps in the night will keep me enthralled.
With Halloween fast approaching now seems like a good time to share some of those spooky books with you.
Last year I recommended this book as good Halloween reading.

Will Storr vs The Supernatural The recommendation stands, it's fascinating stuff. Our intrepid investigator Will Storr, who has written for both the Observer and The Times Magazines, sets off on a journey to discover the "truth" about ghosts after having all his beliefs turned upside down during a journalistic assignment with a Demonologist. Yes a real life Deomonologist from Philadelphia. Amongst others he meets paranormal investigators, mediums and the Vatican's chief exorcist. He visits haunted houses, goes on the set of Most Haunted, speaks to psychologists and has some very strange experiences. A throughly entertaining book.
If fiction is more your thing I suppose you can't really go wrong with a James Herbert, after all he isn't one of Britains foremost "horror" writers for nothing. I hadn't read James Herbert since his The Magic Cottage but was tempted by The Secret of Crickley Hall (also recommended by PG), it doesn't disappoint, I was dragged through with a sort of fatal fasincation from the very first page.
But I have to say that horror isn't my preferred genre, thrillers with an element of the supernatural are much more my thing and I don't think you can get much better than a Phil Rickman. I am a huge fan of his Merrily Watkins Mysteries (start with Wine of Angels-" a village mystery with murder, missing girls, incest, cider and a ghost") but for Halloween I would probably choose one of his earlier books such as Candlenight, The Man in The Moss, or Crybbe. Phil Rickman is a master of rich characterisation and you'll soon get to know (and love) many of the characters who crop up now and again in "cameo roles" in his books.
One last recommendation for readers who like a sprinkling of romance to sweeten their "chillers", this one comes from my 70 year old Aunt, she loves to read Barbara Erskine. Hiding From the Light complete with ghosts and witches would make the perfect Halloween book.

More Reading from June 2007

I mentioned in my last post that I had just sent an order to Amazon, well it has arrived and I have another two books for summer reading.
Regular visitors to Willow House will know that the whole family enjoys Susanna Gregory's Matthew Bartholomew series, The Tarnished Chalice is the 12th chronicle and apparently we will find Bartholomew, Brother Michael and Cynric in Lincoln. I'll have to wait to find out about this one, Alexander has already run off with it.
And I better be quick with Simon Brett's The Stabbing in The Stables or he will have run off with that before I get a chance to read it first. Love these Fethering Mysteries as do the reviewers just look at some of the reviews -
"Simon Brett writes the kind of good whodunnits that could have been written fifty years ago ... and he has a sly sense of humour" The Times
"This is lovely stuff, as comforting - and as unputdownable - as a Sussex cream tea. More please" Brighton Evening Argus
"For readers who like their crime told elegantly and light-heartedly, with a wit which bubbles throughout plot and narrative ... pure pleasure from beginning to end" Birmingham Post
"Crime writing just like in the good old days, and perfect entertainment" Guardian
"Simon Brett writes stunning detective stories ... I would recommend them to anyone" Jilly Cooper
I'm with Jilly Cooper on this I'd recommend The Fethering Mysteries to anyone starting with The Body on The Beach.

A Little Light Reading

A little light reading

I haven't seen any books I wanted to read in charity shops for ages and ages and then just as I cave and submit an order to Amazon what do I see not one book but six in a British Heart Foundation shop.
Elizabeth George writes the Inspector Lynley mysteries. Although I enjoyed the TV series I had no desire to seek out the books but couldn't really resist a 10p charity shop bargain a few months ago. Well now I'm hooked, Elizabeth George writes beautifully and the depth of her characterization far surpasses the TV adaptations. Can't wait to get tucked into these three.
I've been reading Anne Granger's Mitchell and Marksby mysteries ever since one of her books was given away free with a magazine. I've never paid full price for any of her books they are enjoyable but with so many favourite authors on the list she is one who I economise with.
I'm addicted to historical who dunnits! I discovered Bernard Knight and his Crowner mysteries while suffering withdrawal symtoms from Susanna Gregory (why can't authors write fast enough?).Our "dectective" is Sir John de Wolfe, Devon's first county coroner and it's all set in the time of Richard the Lionheart.
I've never read any Alys Clare but it's a medieval mystery so it should keep me quiet for a while!

(Frst posted June 2007)

Thursday, 2 July 2009

I am a book addict

There is no getting away from it I am a book addict. Whether it's old books

or new books,


fiction or children's books,

I can't resist books. My children learned at a very early age that I never refused them a book,so, all our shopping trips would end in a book shop. My Christmas list always contains an Amazon order as long as your arm.My book shelves are bursting at the seams and even though the only things I ever regret giving away are books( I have been known to buy them back from charity shops) I have carrier bags of books awaiting unwary visitors.
I am a book addict and this is my new blog.