Reading Challenges

Transworld Book Group – The Final Book.

By now I should have read and reviewed my final book for the Transworld Book Group reading challenge, but unfortunately things haven’t gone entirely to plan. Out of the four books that I’d chosen the one I was most intrigued by was this fourth book, The Obscure Logic of the Heart by Priya Basil. I’d read and enjoyed her Quick Read book Strangers on the 16:02 so I was looking forward to reading a full length novel by her. And the synopsis sounds great:

An epic Romeo and Juliet for the 21st century

In a bustling London café, Anil, now a famous architect, sits waiting for Lina. It is years since he last laid eyes on her, the love of his life.

Lina is running for the train – punctuality has never been her strength. After all this time she cannot be late to meet Anil.

Together, they think back to tragedies both personal and political, betrayals large and small. A past played out across three continents that house their rival worlds: Sikh and Muslim, wealthy and modest, liberal and orthodox, corrupt and moral….

Lina has one more revelation that must be shared with Anil. Might it unite them once and for all, or has it come too late?

I’ve picked it up a few times and got a few pages in but at the moment it’s just not working for me. I know that it’s nothing to do with the book, I go through phases where I find some books just too dense to get into. So I’m going to do what I know works, leave this to one side for a while and then come back to it. I know I will read it, and based on what little I have managed to read I’m pretty sure I’m going to really enjoy it.

Book Review · Reading Challenges

Book Review : Teacher, Teacher by Jack Sheffield.

It’s 1977 and Jack Sheffield is appointed headmaster of a small village primary school in North Yorkshire. So begins Jack’s eventful journey through the school year and his attempts to overcome the many problems that face him as a young and inexperienced headmaster.

The many colourful chapters include Ruby the 20 stone caretaker with an acute spelling problem, a secretary who worships Margaret Thatcher, a villager who grows giant carrots, a barmaid/parent who requests sex lessons, and a five-year-old boy whose language is colourful in the extreme. And then there’s also beautiful, bright Beth Henderson, who is irresistibly attractive to the young headmaster…

Warm, funny and nostalgic, Teacher, Teacher is a delightful read that is guaranteed to make you feel better, whatever kind of day you’ve had.

This was my third book for the Transworld Book Group challenge, I was really intrigued by the synopsis and as I want to read a little more non-fiction this semi-autobiographical book seemed like a good step to take.

The book covers a school year, each chapter starts with an entry from the school log book and then proceeds to tell the story behind the entry. Whilst many of these stories are funny and thoroughly entertaining, dotted throughout the book are a few more touching and emotional stories. I found that I enjoyed the amusing stories but it was a couple of the touching stories that I carried on thinking about long after I put the book down.

Jack is a great narrator, and way into this small village, but it is the other characters who really steal the book away. There are both adults and children that delight, it would seem mean to pick out any favourites.

My only slight niggle was that Jack occasionally made comments that felt very modern in both their thinking and the language used. I think though that it is because I previously worked with schools that this grabbed my attention, most readers wouldn’t notice this.

I really enjoyed this book, I know that there are a further four books in the series and I’m sure that with time I’ll be reading them all.

Teacher, Teacher is published in paperback by Corgi in the UK priced £7.99. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review · Reading Challenges

Book Review : Nothing But Trouble by Rachel Gibson.

Chelsea Ross knows she’s a great actress. Which is lucky, as she’s just got the toughest role of her life!

Washed up from Hollywood and in serious need of cash, Chelsea jumps at the $10,000 opportunity to act as a ‘carer’ to famous hockey player Mark Bressler, injured after a car crash. After all, how hard can it be to play nice and pick up after an incredibly hot invalid in need of her tender loving care? Just three months of playing nurse and the cash is hers.

But Mark Bressler doesn’t need help. The moody hockey player’s glory days may be over, but he has no intention of letting anyone aid his recovery, least of all the maddeningly cheerful Chelsea. He’s determined to get her to quit – and Mark isn’t the type to give in. But then, neither is Chelsea…

I loved the sound of this book, and the gorgeous purple cover, so it was a very easy pick to make it one of my books for the Transworld Book Group challenge. A book that had a sports slant to it really appealed to me, I’m a huge sports fan but don’t tend to read many books that feature them. When the book arrived I realised that this was the fifth book in the Chinooks series, I started to read hoping that it wouldn’t matter that I hadn’t read the previous books.

It didn’t, the book definitely works as a stand alone, nothing happened in the story that made me feel like I’d missed some important fact. The plot does feel pretty familiar, neither Chelsea or Mark likes each other, but it’s clear there is something between them and they end up in a will they won’t they struggle. I think if the book hadn’t had the ice hockey back drop I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much as I did, this was the part that kept my interest rather than the love story.

Mark begins the book as a pretty obnoxious character, though it is understandable considering his recent accident and the abrupt end of his glittering sports career. Chelsea’s determination and focus proves a good foil to his attempts to get rid of her, and I thought her motivation for doing so is quite interesting. I liked some of the other hockey players we get to see fairly briefly, I can see me being tempted to read the other books in this series to get to see some more of them.

I definitely enjoyed this book, though I think this was mainly to do with the setting and the way it’s written. I would have liked the plot to be a bit more adventurous, but for a fluffy read this did do the job.

Nothing But Trouble is published in paperback by Corgi in the UK priced £5.99. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review · Reading Challenges

Book Review : The Secrets Between Us by Louise Douglas.

A chance encounter: When Sarah meets dark, brooding Alex,she grasps his offer of a new life miles away from her own. They’ve both recently escaped broken relationships, and need to start again. Why not do it together?

A perfect life: But when Sarah gets to the tiny village of Burrington Stoke, something doesn’t add up. Alex’s beautiful wife Genevieve was charming, talented, and adored by all who knew her. And apparently, she and Alex had a successful marriage complete with a gorgeous son, Jamie. Why would Genevieve walk out on her perfect life? And why has no one heard from her since she did so?

A web of lies: Genevieve’s family and all her friends think that Alex knows more about her disappearance than he’s letting on. But Sarah’s fallen in love with him and just knows he couldn’t have anything to hide. Or could he?

As soon as I read the synopsis for The Secrets Between Us I knew it would have to be one of the books I picked for the Transworld Book Group challenge, I hadn’t heard of Louise Douglas but this sounded like a great read with plenty of intrigue and tension. I’m pleased to say I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

The plot is wonderfully twisty – we see everything from Sarah’s point of view, from her first meeting with Alex to her attempts to integrate herself into his life. The plot works really well from this perspective, we as the reader get to form opinions of characters and question their motives and actions in the same way Sarah does. It also means that the mystery of what happened to Genevieve feels very real and very significant, I found myself suspicious of so many characters.

Sarah is a really interesting character, when we first meet her she’s just broken up with her partner after experiencing a huge trauma, and this vulnerability stays with her. I spent a lot of the book feeling worried for her, both that she might be in the same sort of harm Genevieve was and what the effect of her new living situation would be on her.

I found this book really gripping, I got completely swept up in. I loved the way it was written, you never get the sense of knowing completely what’s going on – you’re always waiting for the next twist to pull you off in a new direction. I’ll certainly be looking out for more by Louise Douglas in the future.

The Secrets Between Us is published in paperback by Bantam Press in the UK priced £12.99. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.

Reading Challenges

I’m part of the Transworld book group!


It’s time for another brilliant Transworld reading challenge! The Transworld Book Group Reading Challenge is running from August to October. It’s very easy – you get to pick four titles from a list of 15 and like previous challenges they send you the first book, you read it and review it and then they send your second and so on.

The four books that I’ve picked are:

  • The Secrets Between Us by Louise Douglas
  • Teacher, Teacher! by Jack Sheffield
  • The Obscure Logic of the Heart by Priya Basil
  • Nothing But Trouble by Rachel Gibson


You can review the book on your blog, or on Amazon so why not sign up and join the book group?

Book Review · Reading Challenges

Book Review : Echoes from the Dead by Johan Theorin.

On the Swedish island of Öland, a little boy has gone missing.

It happened twenty years ago, and although his mother, Julia, and her family searched everywhere, no trace of him was ever found.

Until today, when his shoe arrives in the post. It has been sent to Julia’s father, a retired sea-captain still living on the island.

Soon, he and Julia are piecing together fragments of the past: fragments that point inexorably to Nils Kant, known to delight in the pain of others. But Nils Kant died during the 1960s. So who is the stranger seen wandering across the fields as darkness falls?

It soon becomes clear that someone wants to stop Julia’s search for the truth. And that he is much, much closer than she thinks. . .

I read Echoes from the Dead as my third book for The Great Transworld Crime Caper. I hadn’t heard of Johan Theorin before seeing the book on the list for the challenge, but the synopsis sounded intriguing and the fact that it won the CWA Best First Crime Novel in 2009 encouraged me to make it one of my picks.

The book is set on the Swedish island of Öland, Julia left after the disappearance of Jens, her son, twenty years ago but Gerlof, her father, has remained on the island. When he receives what he thinks is Jens’ shoe Julia returns and the two of them get involved in trying to solve the case. Whilst this is going on there is a secondary plot featuring Nils Kant, Gerlof’s main suspect. This tells the story of how a young boy grows up to become a man feared by the island, capable of murder.

I have to admit I didn’t really like many of the characters in the book. I found them hard to identify with and as a result didn’t really feel invested in their stories. Gerlof in particular infuriated me, his habit of keeping secrets made me want to shake him on a number of occasions. I did find Julia to be a well created character, and maybe if I was a parent I would have been able to identify with her more – I certainly saw similarities between her and a family member who lost a child.

I did really like the way the two story lines wove around one another. Nils’ storyline was probably more interesting, but I did find that I’d predicted virtually the whole last section of his story, along with the main story. As I’ve already said I didn’t find the characters easy to engage with and so I did at times find it hard to keep going with the book.

I’m really sad to have ended my challenge with a book I didn’t enjoy very much. I think it’s probably more to do with the fact that I wasn’t the right audience for the book than anything else.

Echoes of the Dead is published in paperback by Black Swan in the UK priced £7.99. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review · Reading Challenges

Book Review : Past Caring by Robert Goddard.

1910: Distinguished MP Edwin Strafford resigns at the pinnacle of his career, removing himself from the public eye. The woman he loves, and for whom he was willing to sacrifice everything, suddenly and coldly rejects him. All the reasons for his fall from grace are shrouded in darkness.

Seventy years later, historian Martin Radford is down on his luck when a mysterious benefactor offers him the opportunity of a lifetime: to uncover what exactly happened to Edwin Strafford. But this apparent good fortune swiftly turns into a nightmare. Radford’s investigations trigger a violent series of events, which throw him straight into the path of those who believed they had escaped punishment for crimes long past but never paid for…

This is the second book I’ve read for the Great Transworld Crime Caper. As soon as I read the synopsis of the book I thought it sounded like my sort of book, within a few pages I knew I’d made a good choice.

The plot is split between the present (though that’s in the 1980s, back when the book was written) and the past, as historian Martin Radford tries to investigate what happened to Edwin Strafford back in the 1910s. Edwin’s story is told through his memoir, both plots are gripping and once they started to overlap I found it increasingly hard to put the book down.

I didn’t find the characters in the book particularly easy to like, the majority of them are working to their own personal agenda and seem to have little trouble with doing whatever it takes to get to their goal. Many of the characters are however interesting, I enjoyed reading about Elizabeth, Edwin’s fiancée.

Edwin’s memoir covers his time as a politician and his experiences of the women’s suffrage movement. I found this to be very interesting reading, though as it’s a time of history I don’t know much about I couldn’t comment on it’s historical accuracy.

The book is very readable, and the jumps between the present set narration and the past account provided by the memoir were very smooth. I have previously read books that use diaries and memoirs for flashbacks that have failed in what they were trying to do – Goddard pulls it off very well. I’ll certainly be recommending this book in the future.

Past Caring is published in paperback by Corgi in the UK priced £7.99. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review · Reading Challenges

Book Review : Sacrifice by S.J. Bolton.

Moving to remote Shetland has been unsettling enough for consultant surgeon Tora Hamilton; even before the gruesome discovery she makes one rain-drenched afternoon . . . Deep in the peat soil of her field she is shocked to find the perfectly preserved body of a young woman, a gaping hole where her heart has been brutally removed and three rune marks etched into her skin.

The marks bear an eerie resemblance to carvings Tora has seen all over the islands, and she quickly uncovers disturbing links to an ancient legend. But as Tora investigates she is warned by the local police, her boss, and even her husband, to leave well alone.

And even though it chills her to the bone to admit it . . . something tells her their concern isn’t genuine.

This is the first book I’ve read for The Great Transworld Crime Caper. I’m a big fan of crime fiction so I thought I would take the opportunity to try out some new authors, the synopsis for Sacrifice left me looking forward to it arriving in the post.

The action kicks off within the first chapter of the book as Tora discovers the mutilated corpse buried on her land. From that point on I felt completely drawn in to the plot, and found it really hard to put the book down. There is no let up from the plot, even the quieter sections are all plot building, there is certainly no filler to be found. About halfway through I had a eureka moment and was sure I knew how the plot was going to end, whilst my thoughts were not wrong they definitely fell far short of the brilliant conclusion to the book. Bolton managed to fit so much into the plot yet it never felt unrealistic.

I found the characters easy to engage with, Tora particularly. I found myself getting really invested in her story, when she dug further and further into what was going on I felt anxious about what might happen to her. At the various points when her attempts were thwarted I found myself getting frustrated on her behalf. I also really liked the character of Dana, I found that I could identify pretty well with her.

The way the book is written worked really well for me. I’ve never travelled to the Shetland Isles but Bolton describes the area in such a way that I could picture it really clearly. I loved the way that folklore and legend was woven into the plot, I think the combination of this and the setting worked to make the book a really interesting read.

Sacrifice is published in paperback by Corgi in the UK priced £6.99. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.

Reading Challenges

I’m an accessory in The Great Transworld Crime Caper!


Following the success of last year’s Summer Reading Challenge Transworld publishers are having another brilliant reading challenge, this one has a crime theme. Taking part is simple, just pop along to the launch post here and sign up. They’ll email you the banner and ask for your choice of three books from the list of 12 titles on offer and you’re away.

I’ve chosen:

  • Sacrifice by S.J. Bolton
  • Past Caring by Robert Goddard
  • Echoes from the Dead by Johan Theorin

I’m really excited about this challenge, I love a good crime book so this is right up my street. I can’t wait for my first book to arrive so that I can get reading!

Reading · Reading Challenges

2011 Reading Challenges.

I have seen so many interesting reading challenges for 2011 and I couldn’t resist picking a couple to sign up for. I’ve seen that some bloggers are signing up for lots of these but I decided to stick to just two – I’d rather set myself up for success rather than failure. Maybe next year I’ll be a little braver!


The Bookette is hosting a British Books Challenge. I will be doing the Home Grown challenge – the target is to read 12 books by British authors. There is also a Crown on offer for reading 50 books, I have an idea I’ll be pushing to reach this target too. Books that I want to read for this challenge include the new titles by both Keris Stainton and Keren David, and I will be starting it by indulging one of my not-very-guilty pleasures and reading “Jump” by Jilly Cooper.


Book Chick City is hosting the 2011 Stephen King Challenge. I read loads of Stephen King as a teenager, but still have loads of titles I haven’t read. You can choose to read six or twelve books, I am going to be aiming for the twelve book level. I haven’t decided which books I will read yet, but I shall definitely be reading a mixture of both old titles and some of his more recent works. I can’t wait to rediscover his brand of horror writing.