Adult Fiction, Family Drama, Fiction, Netgalley, Review

The Aunt Who Wouldn’t Die by Shirshenda Muckhopadhyay

Synopsis

At eighteen, Somlata married into the Mitras: a once noble Bengali household whose descendants have taken to pawning off the family gold to keep up appearances.

When Pishima, the embittered matriarch, dies, Somlata is the first to discover her aunt-in-law’s body – and her sharp-tongued ghost.

First demanding that Somlata hide her gold from the family’s prying hands, Pishima’s ghost continues to wreak havoc on the Mitras. Secrets spilt, cooking spoilt, Somlata finds herself at the centre of the chaos. And as the family teeter on the brink of bankruptcy, it looks like it’s up to her to fix it.

The Aunt Who Wouldn’t Die is a frenetic, funny and fresh novel about three generations of Mitra women, a jewellery box, and the rickety family they hold together.

My thoughts…

This was an interesting and engaging read. I was greatly intrigued by the title and the synopsis. This novel brings this Bengali family to life with colour and wit. The aunt of the title is cantankerous and difficult and leaves as much of a shadow on the family in death as in life. Young Somlata who has recently married into the Mitra family and after discovering her aunt-in-law’s body (and her lingering spirit) has more to deal with than an average young Bengali family. Her aunt-in-law seems hellbent on making life difficult and full of hatred and spite for her surviving family. Yet in many ways her choosing to reveal herself to young Somlata seems the obvious choice as the young girl proves that she can more than hold her own in this chaotic family.

A short but fascinating story that was highly enjoyable and a wonderful snapshot into a culture very different my own.

Thank you to the Netgalley and the publisher, John Murray for my review copy.

The Aunt Who Wouldn’t Die is available in hardback, eBook and on Audiobook, with a paperback edition coming in 2020.

Advertisements
Adult Fiction, Crime, Fiction, Summer Reads, Suspense, Thriller

Summer Reads – The Closer I Get

Books to be swept away with this summer…

There are SO MANY great books around at the moment and so I’d like to share a few that I think are particularly exciting. I’m not going to plop them all together in one post but give each the opportunity to shine in it’s own right…

Hold on to your hats… here are my summer 2019 recommendations. (Don’t forget to check back through my July post for further summer reading recommendations)

The Closer I Get by Paul Burston

Adult Fiction

Here’s the synopsis:
Tom is a successful author, but he’s struggling to finish his novel. His main distraction is an online admirer, Evie, who simply won’t leave him alone.
Evie is smart, well read and unstable; she lives with her father and her social-media friendships are not only her escape, but everything she has.
When she’s hit with a restraining order, her world is turned upside down, and Tom is free to live his life again, to concentrate on writing.
But things aren’t really adding up. For Tom is distracted but also addicted to his online relationships, and when they take a darker, more menacing turn, he feels powerless to change things. Because maybe he needs Evie more than he’s letting on.
A compulsive, disturbingly relevant, twisty and powerful psychological thriller, The Closer I Get is also a searing commentary on the fragility and insincerity of online relationships, and the danger that can lurk just one `like’ away…

*

Now, I know I have only posted my review for this quite recently (do have a read of it here) but it really is a super novel and I so wanted to include it in my summer recommendations.
The Closer I Get was published in July and is available in paperback, eBook and on Audiobook. Visit the Orenda website here for more information but it should be available in any good bookshop.

Paperback ISBN: 9781912374779

*

Read it already? Please feel free to let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Happy reading and I hope you have a fabulous summer!

IMG_20180723_161859

Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Crime, Debut, Thriller

Something In The Water by Catherine Steadman

Today I am absolutely thrilled to be kicking off the blog tour for Something In The Water  by Catherine Steadman.

The perfect couple. The perfect crime?

“Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave?  Wonder no longer. It takes an age. However long you think it takes, double it…”

Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough; Mark is a handsome investment banker with a bright future. They seem to have it all, until Mark loses his job and cracks start to appear in their perfect life. But they’re determined to make it work. They book their dream honeymoon and trust that things will work out – after all, they have each other. On the tropical island of Bora Bora, Mark takes Erin scuba diving. Mark is with her – she knows he’ll keep her safe. Everything will be fine. Until they find something in the water…

Erin and Mark decide to keep their discovery a secret – after all, if no one else knows,
who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events which will endanger everything they hold dear.

0

I read this book pretty much in one day.  I am not normally a book a day reader but this was completely unputdownable.

We begin near the end.  Something has happened.  Someone has died and it looks pretty darn bad for our protagonist Erin.  Told in first person we see events unfold as she takes us back .  ‘I’m not a bad person. Or maybe I am.  Maybe you should decide.’ she tells us and so it begins.

Erin and Mark are the golden couple.  He a successful banker, she an up and coming documentary film maker, beautiful house and their whole future ahead of them.  A few months before their wedding Mark loses his job.  They’re not worried though, he was looking for a change and he has contacts, there are doors that will open for him.  Aren’t there?  Soon the wedding is done and they are flying to Bora Bora and their dream honeymoon.  They couldn’t be happier.

Everything is blissful but storm clouds are gathering.  They decide to take a diving trip, just the two of them with nothing but blue skies and water that goes on forever. But something lies waiting in the water, something that they decide to keep secret. No-one knows, so surely no harm can come of it and somethings are best left hidden… aren’t they?  Except the secret becomes a dark cloud, unsettling the calm, tranquillity of their new marriage.  Someone knows.

This is a strong, accomplished debut and a thrilling read.  The story arc is wonderful and keeps you guessing right until the last few chapters.  I enjoyed reading through Erin’s eyes. It kept the tension high and she is a fascinating character.  Her current documentary project adds another level of tension as she delves into the lives of three criminals just as they are coming to the end of prison sentences.  It certainly makes you question if a person is truly bad just because they have been convicted of a crime.  The convicts are all fascinating characters, all with very different crimes and with very different ideas for their rehabilitation.  I was constantly questioning where things were going, who knew more than they were letting on and if Erin was or wasn’t herself a bad person.  Things are rarely black and white and for this aspect I think this would make a fantastic book club choice.  There are plenty of ‘what would you do?’ moments that I’m sure could raise some lively debates.

There is already lots of hype surrounding this book.  It was published in hardback last summer and was selected for the Reese Witherspoon Book Club.  It has also been optioned for adaptation by Twentieth Century Fox with Reece Witherspoon producing.  I think this will adapt brilliantly.  I just hope they keep the home location here in the UK rather than moving to America as was done in the movie adaptation of Girl On a Train.

In a nutshell this is a fantastic debut, a thrilling read and one I thoroughly recommend.  Absolute perfect escapism. 

Something In The Water will be published in paperback by Simon & Schuster on May 16th.  It is currently also available on eBook, audiobook and in hardback.

Thank you so much to Anne Cater of RandomThingsTours for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and thanks to her and the lovely people at Simon & Schuster for my review copy.

About the author

Catherine Steadman

0Catherine Steadman is an actress and writer based in North London. She has appeared in leading roles on British television as well as on stage in the West End, most recently in Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution in 2018. In 2016 she was nominated for Laurence Olivier Award for her performance in Oppenheimer. She is best known for her role as Mabel Lane Fox in Downton Abbey. She grew up in the New Forest and lives with a small dog and average sized man. Something in the Water is her first novel and her second is due for release in early 2020.

You can follow Catherine on Twitter at @catsteadman

unnamed

Adult Fiction, Review

The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris

I first read Chocolat by Joanne Harris in 2001. I remember it so well because it was the book I took on my honeymoon.  Back in those days there was no social media and more often then not a book would be chosen by simply browsing in a book shop or Library.  Even now, that is something I still get great pleasure from.  The cover is always the first thing I notice when I go into a bookshop.  The displays may be there to entice me with prominent positioning and ‘Books of the Month’, but it’s the the cover image that will call out to me and prevent me from walking on by.  Although I have only a very vague recollection of buying Chocolat,  I know that it was purchased at the airport as I browsed amongst the shelves whilst awaiting our flight.

It was the paperback version but still had the glorious purple cover which sparkled with magic and images of golden eggs.  ‘Try me…test me…’ read me…    I have to admit I’m not sure of I had seen the film at this time but I feel that the book came first for me although that may simply be because I have read it so many times.  As our flight took off on route to New York I began a journey to Lansquenet.

I leant that first copy of Chocolatpurchased all that time ago at the beginning of my own exciting journey,  to a friend.  Unfortunately both the friend and book are now long gone but when I realised it would not be returning to me I searched online for another edition with the same cover.  I found a small hardback first edition which I now treasure.  Sadly the friend was not so easy to replace but like that lost paperback I will always have a place in my heart for her.

So now nearly eighteen years later I am thrilled to return to the village of Lansquenet and the characters that found their way into my heart.  Of course I have returned many times before, repeatedly with Chocolat and also with The Lollipop Shoes and Peaches for Monsieur Le Curé,  but there is something wonderful about a new story. The turning  to the first page, not knowing where it will take you.  Even so, these characters have meant so much to me over the years that I was slightly nervous as to what may now hold for them.

81FQAsOAjNL._AC_UL436_.jpg

The Strawberry Thief

Everyone is different.  Some of us are just more than others…

Vianne Rocher has settled down.

Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, the place that once rejected her, has finally become home.  With Rosette, her ‘special’ child, she runs her chocolate shop in the square, talks to her friends on the river, is part of the community.  Even Reynaud, the priest, has become a friend.

But when old Narcisse, the florist, dies leaving a parcel of land to Rosette and a written confession to Reynaud, the life of the sleepy village is once more thrown into disarray.  The arrival of Narcisse’s relatives, the departure of an old friend and the opening of a mysterious new shop in the place of the florist’s across the square – one that mirrors the chocolaterie, and has a strange appeal all of its own – all seem to herald some kind of change: a confrontation, a turbulence – even, perhaps, a murder…

This is a very welcome return to Lansquenet and it’s inhabitants.  I have missed their stories, the smell of chocolate and the whispering of the wind. This time the story focuses on Narcisse, Reynaud, Rosette and a mysterious new visitor to the town. A visitor who brings change, something that Vianne fears.  What do I remember of Narcisse from the earlier books?  Not a great deal.  He ran the flower shop, was kind to Roux and offered him work when others turned their back and he didn’t see eye to eye with the local Curé.  Yet I felt a sadness when he died, that feeling you get when you wished you had gotten to know someone better when they were alive.  He was always in the background, just out of sight.

Upon his death he leaves a wood to Rosette.  It is a place that is incredibly special to her in a way that only Narcisse understands.  Yet that very action causes anger and mistrust amongst his surviving family.  They are suspicious of his motives and eager to see the confession he left behind.  But the confession is for the eyes of Reynaud only.  His old adversary and someone who has more in common with him then he thinks.

Right within the very heart of the story, Vianne remains fighting to keep her family together.  Constantly on guard of the wind and what it might bring… or take away.  Narcisse’s death brings with it a mysterious stranger to the town of Lansquenet, a stranger not unlike Vianne herself.  Yet the wind begins to blow and stirs up hidden danger, accidents and an unknown force that threatens to tear apart her carefully protected life.

As always I fall into Joanne’s story with ease, returning to Vianne’s life is like a warm hug or a soothing cup of hot chocolate. Her writing is beautiful and as I read I can hear each syllable resonating through my head.  I imagine the audio books are wonderful too, like listening to an old friend.

If you have yet to discover these books then I would recommend starting at the beginning with Chocolat.  Of course it’s not vital but I do think you’ll get so much more from the stories.  I think it’s time I returned there too, back to the beginning and with the hope that before too long we may return there again for another new story.

*

Other recommended books by Joanne Harris

firstukcover.jpg

Blackberry Wine

What if you could bottle a year of your past? Which one would it be? Which time of year? What would it smell like? How would it taste?

These are the questions which began Blackberry Wine: the second volume of my “food trilogy” and the story of Jay Mackintosh, a writer of pulp fiction with one literary success to his name and a dwindling grasp of reality. Trapped between an unresolved past and a humdrum present, suffering from writer’s block and the beginnings of alcoholism, Jay has lost his bearings.

But the accidental discovery of six bottles of home-brewed wine, a legacy from an old and vanished friend, seems to hold the key to a new beginning, a means of escape, and a final reconciliation. For there is something magical about this wine; something which brings the past to life, an agent of transformation. Under its influence, time can work backwards and the dead return to life – as Jay finds, when, on impulse, he gives up his glamorous London lifestyle and escapes to a half-derelict farmhouse in a remote village in Gascony, where two mysteries await him; a ghost from the past whom no-one else can see, and Marise, a reclusive widow with ghosts of her own…

Published in 2000, Blackberry Wine is another favourite of mine that I return to again and again.

Unknown.jpeg

The Little Book of Chocolat by Joanne Harris and Fran Warde

Try me…test me…taste me…

Joanne Harris’s Chocolat trilogy has tantalised readers with its sensuous descriptions of chocolate since it was first published.  Now, to celebrate the much-loved story of Vianne Rocher’s deliciously decadent chocolaterie, Joanne Harris and Fran Warde have created the ultimate book of chocolate lore and recipes from around the world, bringing a touch of magic to your kitchen.

 

This is a stunning recipe book filled with incredibly mouthwatering recipes.  Now THIS would make the perfect Easter gift.

*

Joanne is currently busy with a book tour to coincide with the publication of The Strawberry Thief.  Visit Joannes website here for more information and to see if she will be coming to an event near you.  I am very much looking forward to seeing her talk at the Chiddingstone Literary Festival in May.

You can also follow Joanne on Twitter at @Joannechocolat

*

Thank you for taking the time to visit Tales Before Bedtime today.  Joanne Harris is a writer of enormous versatility and writes in many genres.  Which of her novels is your favourite?

 

Please do share the Tales Before Bedtime love on Twitter, Facebook etc. and follow the blog by clicking the tab to the right.

Thank you.

IMG_20190409_115637__01.jpg

 

Blog Tour, Debut, Fiction

Vox by Christina Dalcher

100 words. That’s all you have per day. You are being watched, your every action and movement monitored and if you step out of line the consequences are unthinkable. This is America, once the land of the free but now the land of the ‘Pure’. The unimaginable has happened. For women the freedom of speech has been eradicated.

Amazing, thought provoking and absolutely terrifying, Vox is so relevant it’s frightening. It’s a stark message to never stop trying to be heard. Never let anyone take away your voice.

Absolutely brilliant, Vox is the novel that everybody will be talking about. (100 words)

Screen Shot 2018-08-20 at 09.22.51