Thursday, 31 May 2012

Some New Books Published in June 2012

The month of June is full of some fabulous titles - here is just a small selection - let me know what you think of them!








Wallflower in Bloom by Claire Cook
Published:  5 June 2012 (UK/USA)
Formats (UK):  Hardcover, Audio
Genre:  Romance

Deirdre Griffin is personal assistant to her charismatic, high-maintenance, New Age guru brother when a former boyfriend informs her that he's marrying another woman.

Drowning her sorrows in vodka, she taps into her brother's massive Internet following to get herself voted on as a last-minute replacement on "Dancing with the Stars" and finally her own fifteen minutes of fame have begun.



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Little Night by Luanne Rice
Published:  5 June 2012  (UK/USA)
Formats  (UK):  Hardcover, Kindle
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction

An emotionally gripping family drama from beloved New York Times bestseller Luanne Rice

Clare Burke's life took a devastating turn when she tried to protect her sister, Anne, from an abusive and controlling husband and ended up serving prison time for assault. The verdict largely hinged on Anne's defense of her spouse - all lies - and the sisters have been estranged ever since. Nearly twenty years later, Clare is living a quiet life in Manhattan as an urban birder and nature blogger, when her niece, Grit, turns up on her doorstep.

The two long for a relationship with each other, but they'll have to dig deep into their family's difficult past in order to build one. Together they face the wounds inflicted by Anne and find in their new connection a place of healing. When Clare begins to suspect her sister might be in New York, she and her niece hold out hope for a long-awaited reunion with her.

A riveting story about women and the primal, tangled family ties that bind them together.


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Equal of the Sun by Anita Amirrezvani
Published:  5 June 2012 (UK/USA)
Formats (UK):  Hardcover, Audio, Kindle
Genre:  Historical Fiction

From the author of the internationally bestselling The Blood of Flowers comes a compulsively readable and gorgeously crafted tale of power, loyalty, intrigue, and love in the royal court of 16th Century Iran.

Iran in 1576 is a place of peace, wealth, and dazzling beauty. But when the Shah dies without having named an heir, the court is thrown into tumult. Princess Pari, the Shah's daughter and closest advisor, knows more about the inner workings of the state than almost anyone, but the princess's maneuvers to instill order after her father's sudden death incite resentment and dissent. Pari and her trusted servant, a eunuch able to navigate the harem as well as the world beyond the palace walls, are in possession of an incredible tapestry of secrets and information that reveals a power struggle of epic proportions.

Based loosely on the life of Princess Pari Khan Khanoom, Equal of the Sun is a riveting story of political intrigue and a moving portrait of an unlikely friendship between a princess and a eunuch.

Anita Amirrezvani is a master storyteller and in her lustrous prose this rich and labyrinthine world comes to vivid life with a stunning cast of characters, passionate and brave men and women who defy or embrace their destiny in a Machiavellian game played by those who lust for power and will do anything to attain it.



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Backlash by Lynda La Plante (Anna Travis, Book 8)
Published:  7 June 2012 (UK/USA)
Formats (UK):  Hardcover, Audio, Kindle
Genre:  Mystery

Late night on a notorious high-rise estate in Hackney and a white van is being driven erratically. The driver is pulled over by the police and questioned. A woman on the street after a long evening's drinking...She never makes it home. A suspect...an arrest...a confession...A case done and dusted? Five years earlier, a 13-year-old girl disappeared in broad daylight on a busy London street. DCS James Langton headed the investigation; the case was never closed. It has haunted him ever since. And now comes another confession, to this murder, and to one more besides. Too good to be true? DCI Anna Travis, pulled into the fray, isn't so sure. Then the suspect changes his story...



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A Humble Companion by Laurie Graham
Published:  7 June 2012 (UK)
Formats (UK):  Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle
Genre:  Historical

Meet Nellie Welche - companion to royalty and keeper of secrets ... Nellie Welche is the daughter of a high-ranking steward in the household of Prinnie, Prince of Wales.
In 1788, at the age of twelve, she's proposed as a suitably humble companion to Princess Sophia, one of George III's enormous brood of children. Nellie and Sofy become friends for life. From the first rumblings of revolution in France to the exciting, modern times of gas light and steam trains, from poor mad George to safe and steady Victoria, Nellie is the sharp-penned narrator of a changing world and the unchanging, cloistered lives of Princess Sofy and her sisters. Nellie proves to be more a hawk-eyed witness than a Humble Companion, as her memoir lifts the lid on the House of Hanover's secrets and lies.

'It's a perfect book for a sunny day in the garden ... Laurie Graham takes us once again into places we never thought we'd get to - and no matter how wonderful or horrible the people there are, they're always really touching and funny' Paul Magrs.      



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Niceville by Carsten Stroud
Published:  12 June 2012  (UK/USA)
Formats  (UK):  Hardcover, Audio …......... Paperback, Kindle 2 Aug 2012
Genre:  Thriller/Mystery

Something is wrong in Niceville. . .  
A boy literally disappears from Main Street.  A security camera captures the moment of his instant, inexplicable vanishing. An audacious bank robbery goes seriously wrong: four cops are gunned down; a TV news helicopter is shot and spins crazily out of the sky, triggering a disastrous cascade of events that ricochet across twenty different lives over the course of just thirty-six hours.
Nick Kavanaugh, a cop with a dark side, investigates. Soon he and his wife, Kate, a distinguished lawyer from an old Niceville family, find themselves struggling to make sense not only of the disappearance and the robbery but also of a shadow world, where time has a different rhythm and where justice is elusive.
. . .Something is wrong in Niceville, where evil lives far longer than men do.
Compulsively readable, and populated with characters who leap off the page,
Niceville will draw you in, excite you, amaze you, horrify you, and, when it finally lets you go, make you sorry you have to leave.

“Terrific dialogue, oddball characters, and a wild story make this a great read.” —Elmore Leonard, author of Get Shorty and Out of Sight


"A compelling work that grabs your attention from page one." —Karin Slaughter


Another Cover:














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The Waters of Star Lake by Sara Rath
Published:  15 June 2012 (UK) ….....  22 May 2012 (USA)
Formats (UK):  Hardcover
Genre:  Humorous Mystery/Romance

Sara Rath returns to the setting of her first novel, Star Lake Saloon and Housekeeping Cottages (2005), for her pleasant third novel.
Soon after recently widowed Natalie Waters Lindquist arrives at her family cabin in rural northern Wisconsin, an attack on her beloved dog, Molly, places her at the center of rising local tensions over hunting and conservation. After being roped by feisty Ginger Kovalcik into a hunt for a gangster’s lost treasure, Natalie’s summer is further complicated by the unexpected arrival of her troubled granddaughter, Minnow.
Romantic possibilities emerge in hunky but secretive Bud Foster and handsome ecologist Will Davis. But a more compelling passion is Natalie’s fierce devotion to her family’s old home. Adventure takes Natalie and her eccentric companions from a roadkill picnic to a notorious gangster hideout, from a pristine morning lake to a rowdy bar called the Last Resort. The result is an affectionate portrait of this distinct region and its quirky inhabitants.


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A Place in the Country by Elizabeth Adler
Published:  19 June 2012 (UK/USA)
Formats (UK):  Hardcover, Kindle
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction

Caroline Evans is a single mom trying to raise her fifteen-year-old daughter, Issy, as best she can. Her ex-husband, James, was a philandering charmer, and a wealthy one at that. Their life had been lavish, but Caroline couldn't put up with his cheating and left him, taking Issy with her. And Issy has never forgiven her for this.
Now, they live in the countryside outside London, where Caroline has built a modestly successful catering business, and Issy is now at an all-girls boarding school. Things are beginning to feel normal. But when James mysteriously appears on her doorstep one night and then vanishes soon after, Caroline feels her world being turned upside down once again. Delving into a world of high-stakes finance she knows little about, Caroline and Issy must find a wary peace, and solve a murder. And Caroline also finds herself guarding a wounded heart against yet another man who seems determined to win her over.
With trademark twists and turns and memorable characters, Elizabeth Adler delivers another summer getaway novel that will leave you gasping for more.



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The Orphanmaster by Jean Zimmerman
Published:  19 June 2012 (UK/USA)
Formats (UK):  Hardcover, Audio
Genre:  Historical Mystery

From a debut novelist, a gripping historical thriller and rousing love story set in seventeenth-century Manhattan

It's 1663 in the tiny, hardscrabble Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, now present-day southern Manhattan. Orphan children are going missing, and among those looking into the mysterious state of affairs are a quick-witted twenty-two-year-old trader, Blandine von Couvering, herself an orphan, and a dashing British spy named Edward Drummond.

Suspects abound, including the governor's wealthy nephew, a green-eyed aristocrat with decadent tastes; an Algonquin trapper who may be possessed by a demon that turns people into cannibals; and the colony's own corrupt and conflicted orphanmaster. Both the search for the killer and Edward and Blandine's newfound romance are endangered, however, when Blandine is accused of being a witch and Edward is sentenced to hang for espionage. Meanwhile, war looms as the English king plans to wrest control of the colony.Jean Zimmerman brings New Amsterdam and its surrounding wilderness alive for modern-day readers with exacting period detail. Lively, fast paced, and full of colorful characters.

The Orphanmaster is a dramatic page-turner that will appeal to fans of Hilary Mantel and Geraldine Brooks.



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A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir
Published:  21 June 2012 (UK)  2 Oct 2012 (USA)
Formats (UK):  Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle
Genre:  Historical

England's Tower of London was the terrifying last stop for generations of English political prisoners. A Dangerous Inheritance weaves together the lives and fates of four of its youngest and most blameless: Lady Katherine Grey, Lady Jane's younger sister; Kate Plantagenet, an English princess who lived nearly a century before her; and Edward and Richard, the boy princes imprisoned by their ruthless uncle, Richard III, never to be heard from again. Across the years, these four young royals shared the same small rooms in their dark prison, as all four shared the unfortunate role of being perceived as threats to the reigning monarch.

Weaving together their lives and fates into a dark mystery of thwarted love and ruthless ambition, Alison Weir has written the most suspenseful, large-scale novel of her career.



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Saturday, 26 May 2012

Author Wendy Wallace Talks About The Painted Bridge

Following on from my recent review of The Painted Bridge, I am thrilled that the author, Wendy Wallace has kindly taken some time out from her blog tour to write a short piece for Carole's Book Corner on where her ideas for the story came from.






A few different ideas gradually came together into the story of The Painted Bridge.


I was thinking about a visionary, a woman who sees visions, which was once quite a common way in which women expressed their spirituality. Then, I came across the photographs of Dr Hugh Diamond, who worked in an asylum in Surrey in the mid-19th century and made black and white photographs of patients.


I was intrigued and disturbed by the idea that Dr Diamond had apparently believed that photographs could be used to read the minds of the human subjects, and help determine their mental state. It was an idea that made sense at the time; physicians had long believed that different mental qualities were translated physically into the features.




Hugh Diamond photographed both men and women but I found the pictures of the women particularly moving. They looked pre-occupied in many cases, sad or resigned in others. Few looked ‘mad’ to me.  More than anything – they looked ordinary and recognizable, like women you might see now, sitting opposite you on a bus or train. In the mirror, even.


Researching the Victorian asylum, I began to realize how great the potential was at the time for abuse.  Although large government asylums were being built in every English county, many of the old-style small private madhouses lingered on – their profits dwindling as the modern asylums took in not only the so-called pauper lunatics but paying patients as well.


All that was required for a person to be detained in a madhouse was two doctors’ signatures. Women were, generally-speaking, more vulnerable to abuse of the system, partly because of their lower social status and, often, economic dependence but also because of the tendency of some male doctors of the day to see symptoms of ‘hysteria’ in any female behaviour of which they didn’t approve.


The two ideas began to take shape together – a women who is called mad, because of the visions she sees.  And a man who is inspired by Dr Diamond, a young, idealistic doctor who believes that the new science of photography will enable him to make better diagnoses of his patients’ conditions by seeing in to their minds.




At the same time, I had a postcard of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of the Virgin of the Rocks propped on the mantelpiece by my desk. That beautiful image contributed to the idea of my vision-seeing woman being from the coast, and concerned with the peril of the seas. In the novel, Anna Palmer’s father is a ship’s captain and was drowned at sea.


As a young mother, many years ago, I once had a powerful nightmare that I’ve never forgotten, of a drowning of a child. If you’ve read The Painted Bridge, you’ll know that that image made its way in strongly too.


Another important part of the world of the novel is Lake House itself, and the grounds in which it’s set. The ‘painted bridge’ of the title, and the walled garden and grounds in which Anna Palmer walks with her keeper, Lovely, are partly inspired by historic Kenwood House, which is near where I live. The descriptions of the autumnal trees, then as the months pass the frozen lake and snowy landscape – and later the onset of a beautiful English spring – come partly from my almost daily walks there while I was writing the book.




The painted bridge, a bridge which is not what it seems, was a sustaining metaphor throughout the writing of the novel and helped me as well as Anna Palmer find a ‘way across’.


Thank you so much to Wendy Wallace for this fascinating piece.  You will find her website here.

The Painted Bridge has just been published by Simon & Schuster in the UK -- it will be published in the US in July 2012.....but if you want a copy before publication in the US please see the giveaway below!


A short synopsis of the story: 



An elegant, emotionally suspenseful debut, The Painted Bridge is a story of family betrayals, illicit power, and a woman sent to an asylum against her will in Victorian England.
Just outside London, behind a high stone wall, lies Lake House. In the winter of 1859, Anna Palmer becomes its newest patient. To Anna’s dismay, her new husband has declared her in need of treatment and brought her to this shabby asylum.     Confused and angry, Anna sets out to prove her sanity, but with her husband and doctors unwilling to listen, her freedom will not be won easily.



I gave this book 9/10 and my review can be found here.


If you would like the chance to win a copy all you need to do is:


Leave a comment below


Leave your email address.


Open to all UK and International readers.


Closing Date is 7th June 2012


One entry per person please.


Winners will be selected at random and contacted by email


Good Luck!



Thursday, 24 May 2012

Book Giveaway + Review of THE PAINTED BRIDGE BY WENDY WALLACE



Genre:  Historical Fiction
Published:  Simon & Schuster  (May 2012)
Pages:  386  (Hardcover)
Source:  Publisher
My Rating:  9/10

About the Book:

An elegant, emotionally suspenseful debut, The Painted Bridge is a story of family betrayals, illicit power, and a woman sent to an asylum against her will in Victorian England.
Just outside London, behind a high stone wall, lies Lake House. In the winter of 1859, Anna Palmer becomes its newest patient. To Anna’s dismay, her new husband has declared her in need of treatment and brought her to this shabby asylum.     Confused and angry, Anna sets out to prove her sanity, but with her husband and doctors unwilling to listen, her freedom will not be won easily.

"The appearances of things are deceptive"

The book is set In the 19th century when some women were so powerless that if their husbands/family decided they were too much trouble and wanted rid of them they put them into an asylum for an indefinite time, and they could do little about it.

This is what happened to Anna Palmer, 24, when her bully of a husband, the Reverend Vincent Palmer, left her at Lake House, a private asylum for genteel women of a delicate nature.

She meets allies and enemies, cruelty and kindness there.  Allies in the form of Lucas St. Clair, a photographer who was convinced that by studying the inmates photo a diagnosis of their condition could be made …. and whether they were mad or not, and the owner’s teenage daughter, Catherine, who loved reading poetry and who was a constant worry to her mother.   Cruelty in the form of Fanny Makepeace, matron, who took a dislike to Anna and tried to make her life even more miserable.

You could not help but have sympathy for how Anna and the rest of the ladies were treated, most of whom were as sane as she was, but how could they prove it when no-one listened to them. Anna was an intelligent woman who was determined to find a way to escape and I was willing her to do just that.

Anna’s view from her bedroom window was the Lake and the bridge:
It was a white bridge, stretching from one side of the lake to the other, delicate and ethereal, its three shallow arches a row of half-moons that seemed to float on the surface of the water.   The bridge was the most beautiful she’d ever seen, like something from a painting or an illustration for a fairy tale.

As I gradually realised while reading nothing is as it seems and I loved the way the author teases us with assumptions.  

The writing was vivid with an interesting cast of larger than life characters, the story was compelling and never boring, and the details of the treatments some women endured will live long in my memory. The heroine, Anna Palmer, is sometimes docile but could also be strong-willed when necessary and I really warmed to her.

This is a book you will not forget in a hurry and one that I would certainly recommend.

Special Thanks to the publishers for sending me this book to review.

I am thrilled that the Publishers, Simon & Schuster, have very generously donated 10 (yes, 10!) books to give away to 10 lucky winners. If you would like to have your very own copy of this intriguing book all you need to do is:

Leave me a comment
Add your email address
by the closing date of Thursday 7th June 2012
This is open to UK and International readers.
One entry per person please.
Winners will be selected at random and contacted by email.
GOOD LUCK!

And that's not all ! I am just as excited to tell you that Wendy Wallace has written a little piece for my blog about the story and how she came to write The Painted Bridge, which you can read all about tomorrow.

So, don't forget to check back then, and good luck to everyone who enters the giveaway!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Book Review: NO MARK UPON HER BY DEBORAH CROMBIE

Genre:  Thriller/Murder Mystery
Published:  William Morrow  (Feb 2012)
Pages:  369  (Hardcover)
Source:  Publishers
My Rating:  8.5/10

About the Book:

Olympic rowing hopeful and senior Metropolitan Police officer DCI Rebecca Meredith goes out alone to train on the river in Henley on a dark afternoon in late October – and doesn’t return. 
When a desperate search by the police and a K9 team reveals the possibility of foul play, Scotland Yard wants one of their own on the case. Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid, returning from celebrating his marriage to long-time partner Detective Inspector Gemma James, is called to Henley to investigate. 
He soon finds that the world of elite rowing can be brutal, and that Rebecca Meredith’s ex-husband was not the only person with good reason for wanting her dead. Then, when a search-and-rescue team member is threatened, Kincaid realizes the case may be even more complex and more dangerous than he believed. 
But it is only when he enlists Gemma’s aid that they find that the answers lie closer to home than they could have imagined – and are infinitely more deadly. It seems that more than one innocent life depends on their ability to track down the killer.    

This is the 14th novel in the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James detective series......I haven't read any of the others so I can't compare it with any of those.......but if any of them are as good as this then I wish I had read them all!

There is a wonderful map inside the front cover which details the area that the story covers which I loved, I found myself constantly checking this to see where the characters were and it made it all the more believable while I was reading.  I really appreciate it when authors have maps in books!

From the very first paragraph I loved her descriptive words - this is from the first page:

Heart thumping, she moved across the cottage's shadowy garden and through the gate that led out onto the Thames Path.  Tendrils of mist were beginning to rise from the water.  The river had a particular smell in the evenings, damp and alive and somehow primeval.  The gunmetal surface of the water looked placid as a pond, but she knew that for an illusion.  The current, swift here as the river made its way towards the roar of the weir below Hambleden Mill, was a treacherous trap for the unwary or the overconfident.

You can almost feel as if you're there by the river watching the victim Rebecca Meredith as she takes her final row on the Thames.......

The main characters of Detectives Kincaid and James have recently married and we share in their domestic situation as they juggle the difficulties of police work with looking after three children.

The main problem I had when I first started reading was the number of characters that were introduced quite early on which I found very confusing ….. I had to write their names down and keep referring to them throughout the story …. otherwise I would not have known who was who.

But, that aside, I was soon engrossed in the lives of rowers at the Leander Club in Henley (a town about 35 miles from London), the Boat Race, search and rescue teams and their dogs, all of which I found fascinating.

The story started slowly as I got to know the characters in depth....there were the Search and Rescue members, Kieran, an ex-soldier (combat medical technician), veteran of the Iraq war, and struggling with vertigo, who lives in a boathouse on an island in the middle of the Thames and Tavie Larssen, a small blonde, elfin like Scandinavian, Freddie Atterton, Rebecca’s ex-husband, to name but a few.

This is a gripping story with lots of suspense and surprises, a complex plot that is not too complicated, well-rounded characters, vivid descriptions, and I would definitely recommend you add this novel to your reading list.


A full list of Deborah Crombie's Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series can be found here.


Special Thanks to the Publishers for sending me this book.


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