Saturday, 30 August 2014

I am Pilgrim

I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
Published by Corgi
8th May 2014
Paperback Edition

 
Can you commit the perfect crime?

Pilgrim is the codename for a man who doesn't exist. The adopted son of a wealthy American family, he once headed up a secret espionage unit for US intelligence. Before he disappeared into anonymous retirement, he wrote the definitive book on forensic criminal investigation.

But that book will come back to haunt him. It will help NYPD detective Ben Bradley track him down. And it will take him to a rundown New York hotel room where the body of a woman is found facedown in a bath of acid, her features erased, her teeth missing, her fingerprints gone. It is a textbook murder - and Pilgrim wrote the book.

What begins as an unusual and challenging investigation will become a terrifying race-against-time to save America from oblivion. Pilgrim will have to make a journey from a public beheading in Mecca to a deserted ruins on the Turkish coast via a Nazi death camp in Alsace and the barren wilderness of the Hindu Kush in search of the faceless man who would commit an appalling act of mass murder in the name of his God.

 

Let's get this clear from the off - I am Pilgrim is a big book.  And by big, I mean nearly 900 pages of narrative!  Sounds off-putting but don't let its size put you off reading what could turn out to be one of 'the' books of 2014.  In my head I can already see this being made into a Hollywood blockbuster.

In his first novel, Terry Hayes, has created the character of Pilgrim - a man who used to work for American intelligence units before retiring.  But can a man like Pilgrim ever completely retire.  Can he ever be safe?  His life in Paris is a quiet but happy one, until the day he is tracked down by a New York detective by the name of Ben Bradley.  He has read Pilgrim's book, and using his detecting skills, managed to locate the man behind the fa├žade. 

Pilgrim is needed to come out of retirement, for a crime has been committed by someone who has also read the book, word for word, and created a murder scene that replicates the book.  As the man who wrote it, Pilgrim becomes the man who has to solve it.  His journey takes him across the world in a bid to stop a terrorist who is determined to end life in America on a scale never seen before.

The narrative does flick back and forth so if you choose to stop for a breather, then you may begin again wondering where in time you actually are in the story, but the links are necessary for the story to work.  And it does work.  It's a thrilling journey of a ride, as you follow both Pilgrim, and our wannabe assassin across the globe, routing for him to be stopped, but ultimately wondering if Pilgrim will just be a second too late in the end.


Happy Reading


Miss Chapter x

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Autumn Reads

Yes, it's that time again, when the shops are full of winter clothes, and everyone prepares for the colder days to come, even though it's still August, and the publishing companies are no different, for now we are looking forward to the reads that are going to fill our evenings, snuggled on the sofa, in front of the fire.

To start it all off, the fabulous Richard & Judy announced the forthcoming titles picked for their next book club.  I miss their tv show, I avidly watched every episode, and then, when that finished, moved onto the TV Book Club, which also seems to have stopped.  Did I ever mention, I was on the TV Book Club, reviewing Essie Fox's The Sonambulist?  Well, I was!

Anyway, back to the R&J choices.  Out of the 8 titles they have selected, I have 4 coming up on here for review.


I can't wait to get stuck into this one - love a good thriller novel




I am reading this right now, and Daisy has agreed to do an 'in conversation with' interview on here too!
 
 
 
I have literally just finished this, and a review, interview and giveaway will be coming up very soon.  It's a great read!
 
 
 
 
 I downloaded this one after reading a great review by Jenny at Neverland, lets hope it doesn't let me down! 
 
 
I'm sure you will agree, these look like great titles, and I'll be reviewing them as soon as possible.  I've also got interviews lined up with Suzanne Palmieri, Jane Casey and Erin Kelly which I'm thrilled about.  Looks like Autumn is going to be a great one for reading this year!
 
 
Happy Reading
 
 
Miss Chapter x


Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Torch

Torch by Cheryl Strayed
Published by Atlantic Books
7th August 2014
Paperback Edition



"Work hard.  Do good. Be incredible!" is the advice Teresa Rae Wood shares with the listeners of her local radio show and the advice she strives to live by every day.  She has fled a bad marriage and rebuilt a life with her children, Claire and Joshua, and their caring stepfather, Bruce.  Their love for each other binds them as a family through the daily struggles of making ends meet.  But when they receive unexpected news that Teresa, only 38, is dying of cancer, their lives are devastated.  Strayed's intimate portraits of these human characters in a time of crisis is a moving exploration of grief and forgiveness, and a celebration of the beautiful terrors of learning how to keep living in the face of death.

 

This is actually Cheryl Strayed's first novel, as it was originally published in America in 2005 prior to writing Wild and Tiny Beautiful Things, however Atlantic Books have published it in the UK for the first time this year.  Torch is loosely based on the real-life events of Strayed's own life - her mother died when Strayed was in her early twenties, and in some ways Torch is the result of this.

Teresa Rae Wood works at a local radio show, and is happily unmarried to Bruce, with two children from her first marriage, Claire and Joshua.  Feeling unwell, Teresa goes to the doctors and discovers that she has cancer.  Torch follows her demise, her death, and her family's ability to cope and move on after she has gone.  Each character deals with the situation in a different way, I won't say how for fear of spoiling the story, but Strayed writes with a passion that grabs and involves you in their lives, drawing you in to the story.  Joshua is a self-centred so-and-so whom I didn't particularly like, but it is good that a character can be written in a way to make you like/dislike them.

Initially I thought I would sob throughout this book, but I didn't.  Teresa's death comes pretty quickly in the first part of the book, and the remainder is about how her family cope, or don't cope, with this.  I think it would be a different book entirely had this been drawn out, making it much more melancholic.  As it is, Strayed has written a very poignant, yet  moving, novel about death, grief, and moving on.

 
Happy Reading

 
Miss Chapter x

Saturday, 23 August 2014

The Witch of Little Italy

The Witch of Little Italy by Suzanne Palmieri
Published by St Martin's Griffin
17th April 2013
Paperback Edition

 

Eleanor Amore doesn't remember anything before the last day of her tenth summer.  But when she suddenly returns home to her estranged family in the Bronx, called there by "The Sight" she shares with the other Amore women, it starts to haunt her in flashes: turning cartwheels on sun-drenched breaches, giggling during games of hide-and-seek, and Anthony, the first love who she left behind.  Bewitched by the world she is now a part of, Eleanor works together with her newly found love and uses her ever-strengthening inner powers to solve a decades-old mystery -which provides the key to the Amore women's magical secrets.


This is the first book in the 'witch of' series by Suzanne Palmieri, The Witch of Belladonna Bay has just been published (and is waiting here to be read and reviewed), and Suzanne has literally just finished The Witch of Bourbon Street.
 
So, what's it all about then?  Well, as the blurb says, university student Eleanor Amore returns to her family home after a spat with her self-centred mother, remembering nothing of her great aunts since she was ten years old.  Why is this, and why does she feel so drawn to return to the fold?  Add to this the fact that she is pregnant, and in an abusive relationship, along with the added complication that her first, and true-love, lives in the same building, and you have all you need for a fantastic read. 

Yes it is magical, and mystical, but beautifully written.  I was drawn into the lives of the Amore family, of the sisters  Mimi, Fee and Itsy, with all their quirks and powers,  of the growing relationship between Eleanor and  Anthony, and of the spells and fantasy entwined in this tale.  It's a feel-good read for anyone who loves a touch of magic in their lives, and I can't wait to read the next book!


Happy Reading

 
Miss Chapter x

Thursday, 21 August 2014

The Pink Suit

The Pink Suit by Nicole Mary Kelby
Published by Virago
5th June 2014
Hardback Edition

 
 


On a sunny morning in November 1963, President and Mrs Kennedy were greeted by ecstatic crowds in Dallas, Texas.  By the end of the day, Mrs Kennedy was a widow, and her bloodstained pink suit had become the emblem of a country's horrified grief.

Kate is an Irish immigrant, working as a seamstress at Chez Ninon, an exlusive Manhattan atelier responsible for much of Mrs Kennedy's wardrobe.  Kate and the First Lady share roots on Ireland's west coast, and although their lives could not be more different, Kate cannot but feel they have a connection.  After all, Kate knows every tuck and pleat the beautiful clothes require to create the illusion of perfection.

Then comes the dreadful day when pictures of the suit, spattered with the president's blood, are beamed across the globe.  Kate's already fragile world, divided between the excess and artistry of Chez Ninon and the traditional values of her Irish neighbourhood, threatens to rip apart.

The Pink Suit is an engrossing, elegant novel about clothes, history and the stitches that anchor our lives and our dreams.

 

Nicole Mary Kelby tells of what is possibly the most infamous and iconic suit of the 20th Century - the pink suit that was worn by Jackie Kennedy on November 22nd 1963, the day her husband, John F Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States of America, was assassinated.  The suit has lasted in memory, principally for the reason that Mrs Kennedy allegedly refused to change out of the blood-stained garments, in order to "let them see what they have done". 

The Pink Suit tells of the seamstress who made this garment, albeit in a fictional sense, for the seamstress was called Kate, but the details in this book are of historical fiction based on facts.  The Kate in The Pink Suit is an Irish immigrant in America, working for Chez Ninon, an exclusive company based in Manhattan, who dress only America's finest - including the First Lady, or as she was known 'the Wife'.  What I didn't realise is that many of the garments that Chez Ninon produced were actually copies of French designs, not the actual article themselves.  This was an accepted procedure, with Chez Ninon paying a fee to the respective design house concerned.  In the case of the classic Chanel suit, the toile and fabric are sent over from France, but constructed in America, thus giving the feel that Mrs Kennedy is wearing American, not European clothing.

The book features the suit as a character, but it is Kate, the seamstress, who takes the central role, of how hard she grafts and of her life outside of Chez Ninon.  Of her growing friendship with the butcher Patrick, and of the fire that will ultimately change her life.  This book isn't about the Kennedy's per-se but about the people of America who were involved in shaping their personas.  I found it to be a fascinating read.

 
Happy Reading

 
Miss Chapter x

Monday, 18 August 2014

Broadchurch

Broadchurch by Erin Kelly & Chris Chibnall
Published by Sphere
14th August 2014
Paperback Edition

 
It's a hot July morning in the Dorset town of Broadchurch when Beth Latimer realises that her eleven-year-old son, Danny, is missing. As Beth searches desperately for her boy, her best friend, local police officer DS Ellie Miller, arrives at work to find that the promotion she was promised has been given to disreputable Scottish outsider DI Alec Hardy.

When Danny's body is found on the beach Ellie must put her feelings aside as she works with DI Hardy to solve the mystery of Danny's death. As the case becomes a murder investigation the news hits the national press, jolting sleepy Broadchurch into the national spotlight.

As the town's secrets begin to unravel, members of this tight-knit community begin to consider those in their midst. Right now it's impossible to know who to trust...


I might be the only person who missed it, but I didn't see the television adaptation of Broadchurch by Chris Chibnall and spent an age after the final episode hiding from any newspaper and Twitter reveals as to 'whodunnit'.  However, I did get the dvd when it came out, but, at the time of writing this, it remains unopened. 

You may be asking yourself why this is (or not really care, but I'm going to tell you anyway).  The reason it's unopened is because not long after said dvd purchase, I heard on the grapevine that is Twitter, that the fabulous Erin Kelly (who writes excellent books, and if you have't read them, you should) was going to be writing the Broadchurch novel, based on the tv series.  I had to get myself a copy.

After a few tweets were sent, it came through, and then I had the next dilemna, did I watch the series, then read the book, or the other way around?  I couldn't decide, so asked the author herself.  She offered it out to others who had already done both, and the reply was to read the book first.  So the dvd has remained on the back-burner until I finished the book this week - can't wait to watch it, but firstly, onto the book itself....

So back to the plot, and here's presuming you haven't seen it either; one weekday morning, all is normal in the Latimer household.  Beth Latimer gets up only to discover her 11 year old son Danny isn't home.  Both she and her husband presume he has got up early, done his paper round and gone to school, but without taking his lunchbox.  She goes over to the school only to discover that they haven't seen him either - now it's time to panic.  At the same time, Beth's best friend Ellie gets a call that a body has been discovered on a beach, and it doesn't look good.

Accompanying this story-line is that of DS Ellie Miller's career - before going away on holiday, she was more-or-less promised the job of DI upon her return, however she gets back to find that she has been passed over for the job by DI Alec Hardy - a man who has his own demons relating to a previous missing child case that threatened to wreck his career.  Can Miller work alongside him, and can Hardy handle the media pressure once the death of Danny Latimer hits the nationals?

Broadchurch is the story of a sleepy Dorset town where everyone thinks that they know each other.  However, as the police start digging deeper, it appears that many of the residents have guilty secrets that they would rather remain hidden; and one person in particular has the biggest secret of all.  The question is, which resident is it?

I didn't guess who the murderer was, but I was surprised when I found out.  I think Erin Kelly has written a very good novel based on the script by Chris Chibnall.  Obviously if you have already seen the television series, you will already know 'whodunnit', does that change how good the book actually is?  I can't say for certain but I througly enjoyed it, and if you like your crime novels, I'd say snap this one up right away.

 
Happy Reading

 
Miss Chapter x

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Chelsea Bird

Chelsea Bird by Virginia Ironside
Published by Quercus
21st November 2013
Kindle Edition

 
The debut novel of acclaimed writer Virginia Ironside, author of No, I Don't Want to join a Bookclub, originally published in 1964, when she was aged just twenty.

London, 1960s. A cultural revolution is taking place. Young people are finally being seen as a force to be reckoned with. But for eighteen-year-old art student Harriet and her Chelsea friends, this amounts to one thing: being 'In'. The King's Road swarms with people wanting to see and be seen; upper-class boys with faux cockney accents party with models, beatniks and photographers; teddy boys are good people to nod to in the street; transport caffs are the must-go places for food, and black men have suddenly become the people to know.

Through Harriet's eyes, Virginia Ironside paints a witty, tongue-in-cheek portrait of life in 1960's London that will strike a nostalgic chord with all those who were there, and make all those who weren't wish they had been.

I didn't think this short read (119 pages) by Virginia Ironside has really dated all that much.  Eighteen year old Harriet has moved to London to pursue her studies as an art student, and we follow her through the streets of the city, observing those around her, and those who make up her life, including boyfriend Tom and friend and fellow student Ann.  The descriptions and observations come across as very accurate and you can imagine being in the heart of the sixties through the prose of Ironside's writing. 

The book isn't meant to be taken seriously, with it's subtitle of confessions of a sixties chick, and it does poke fun at the way people lived their lives trying to be 'hip' and 'with it' in a decade where image suddenly became bang on trend, and everyone wanted to be 'somebody', and when you consider when this was written, and by someone who was only aged 20, then this was a pretty big deal indeed.


Happy Reading


Miss Chapter x