Thursday, 28 April 2016

The Teacher

The Teacher by Katerina Diamond
Published by Avon
10th March 2016
Paperback Edition

You think you know who to trust? You think you know the difference between good and evil?
You’re wrong …
The body of the head teacher of an exclusive Devon school is found hanging from the rafters in the assembly hall.
Hours earlier he’d received a package, and only he could understand the silent message it conveyed. It meant the end.
As Exeter suffers a rising count of gruesome deaths, troubled DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles must solve the case and make their city safe again.
But as they’re drawn into a network of corruption, lies and exploitation, every step brings them closer to grim secrets hidden at the heart of their community.
And once they learn what’s motivating this killer, will they truly want to stop him?
I sort-of had to download this book onto my kindle as I love crime novels and I’m a teacher.  Be warned though, this is a thriller that is not for the faint hearted.  The deaths in this book would make for horrific scenes on the big screen, and they were pretty awful to read in print too.
We begin with the death of Jeffrey Stone, a headmaster at a school in Devon.  It appears to be a suicide but we, the reader, know that earlier in the day, he received a package that for him spelt out the end of his career and life.
He is to be the first in a string of deaths throughout the county of prominent men, and new partners Detectives Grey and Miles need to work out what the connection between them is, and who is responsible.
There is a nicer side to the book and that is of the relationship between taxidermist Abbey, and Parker who comes to work alongside her at the local museum.  They are both characters with flawed pasts (come to think of it, every character in this book has a flawed past) and they immediately see a connection with each other.
There have been a lot of mixed reviews for The Teacher but I think many of them are a bit harsh.  If you like graphic crime thrillers then I don’t think you’ll dislike this, and actually, I’m looking forward to seeing Detectives Grey and Miles pair up again.
Happy Reading
Miss Chapter x

Thursday, 14 April 2016

The Witches of Cambridge

The Witches of Cambridge by Menna van Praag
Published by Allison & Busby
18th February 2016
Paperback Edition

The Cambridge University witches have been meeting for as long as the university has been around - over 900 years - they meet mainly to discuss books, though they do so on the roofs of the colleges and they drink hot chocolate while up there. The members are limited and selective, only those invited can join. In 2014 this includes Kat (a great spell-caster & professor of mathematics), George (a professor of Classics & all-round witch who seems to have no special skills), Amandine (retired French Literature professor and psychic, Kat's mother) & Noa (student of history - who sees people's secrets and can't help but say them). Cosima, Kat's sister, is the chef/owner of Gustare, the best cafe in Cambridge, where they group meets every month. Cosima is also a witch and, when she begins casting spells to attract a mate (being desperate to conceive) everything starts to go wrong - she sets off a chain of events that turns each of the witches' worlds upside down...
This is the third book I’ve read by Menna van Praag and I enjoyed it as much as the others that she has written, though The House at the End of Hope Street is still my favourite.  She always evokes a touch of magic to her stories, but beware, as there is always someone out there who wants to take all the magic for themselves.  This book is set in Cambridge and revolves around a group of witches of all ages who meet as part of a book group.  Amandine is grieving the loss of her husband, and her daughter Kat doesn’t know how to get her to move on with her life, though Kat has worries of her own, her husband has been seemingly distant of late; could it be that he is having an affair?  When Kat meets Noa, who can see people’s secrets, she decides to ask her for help in discovering what her husband is keeping from her, but no sooner do the two conspire to do just that, then Noa meets the seemingly enigmatic artist Santiago and her powers seem to vanish as she falls under his spell.  Meanwhile Cosima decides that she needs to have a baby and conducts all manner of spells into her baking in order to find the right man, though as we all know, forced magic usually comes with tragic consequences. 
Menna van Praag writes magical tales with a touch of sourcery and romance entwined about them and The Witches of Cambridge is no exception to this rule.  I loved the thought of the book group hovering over the university with their hot chocolate to drink safe in the knowledge that hardly anyone ever looks up, and therefore won’t see them there.  My only criticism of her stories is that they sometimes feel like they are actually set in America and not in England and I usually have to remind myself of this whilst reading them, but don’t let that detract you from another great story.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x 

Monday, 4 April 2016

Jane Steele

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
Published by Headline
22nd March 2016
Paperback Edition

Like the heroine of the novel she adores, Jane Steele suffers cruelly at the hands of her aunt and schoolmaster. And like Jane Eyre, they call her wicked - but in her case, she fears the accusation is true. When she flees, she leaves behind the corpses of her tormentors.

A fugitive navigating London's underbelly, Jane rights wrongs on behalf of the have-nots whilst avoiding the noose. Until an advertisement catches her eye. Her aunt has died and the new master at Highgate House, Mr Thornfield, seeks a governess. Anxious to know if she is Highgate's true heir, Jane takes the position and is soon caught up in the household's strange spell. When she falls in love with the mysterious Charles Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him - body, soul and secrets - and what if he discovers her murderous past?

Jane Steele is a homage of sorts to the novel Jane Eyre and there are some parallels between the stories themselves.  Our tale begins with Jane being unfairly treated by her aunt and cousin, and as a result is subsequently sent away to school.  Alas before she gets there, Jane commits her first act of murder, and this is a path that will subsequently follow our heroine throughout the novel, for Jane Steele is certainly a murderess and as the book progresses, the body count continues to grow.

Running away from the school she detests with her best friend, Jane moves to London to live as well she can.  However she cannot refrain from taking the lives of those she feels has wronged her and this is not taken well by those closest to her.  Alone, Jane accepts the position of governess at Highgate House, the house she once called home, and believed that she was one day to inherit.  The house is changed from when she was once resident there and Jane is curious to find out what goes on amongst its darkest corners.  Her employer Mr Thornfield is both dashing in looks and surly in temperament and soon Jane is hopelessly in love with him. 

Can she end her murderous past and live happily ever after at Highgate or will the demons of her past catch up with her?  Furthermore, is everything as it actually seems with her new employer and those who he surrounds himself with, or does our enigmatic Mr Thornfield have an equally turbulent past that he too wishes to keep a secret?

This is a slightly far-fetched novel in parts, particularly with Jane’s ability to murder and move on with her life so easily but I really liked the parallels between this and the classic novel and was happily satisfied when I at last finished reading it.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Red Witch

Red Witch by Anna McKerrow
Published by Quercus Children’s Books
10th March 2016
Paperback Edition

Seventeen, heartbroken, powerful; Demelza Hawthorne has run away from home and the safety of the Greenworld.

In the cities of the Redworld, Melz discovers she's special, and for the first time in her life, desired. And not just for her magical talents. When Melz meets the young but influential Bran, their attraction is instant and electric. In the Redworld, with Bran by her side, Melz believes she can reach her true potential.

But the world Bran promises Melz is ravaged by war and violence. Fuel is running out, and people will do anything to gain control of the remaining resources. Melz may be more powerful than ever, but power can be a curse in the wrong hands.

This is the follow-up to Crow Moon and the second in the trilogy of books about the Redworld and the Greenworld.  Danny takes a back seat this time, and the book focuses entirely on Demelza, or Melz as she prefers to be known.

Due to the ending of book one (no spoilers here) Demelza is heartbroken and decides to leave her life in Cornwall behind and move to the Redworld and Glastonbury.  She yearns for a new future, where she can leave the past and her sorrows, behind her.  When she gets to Glastonbury she meets a trio of girls who proclaim themselves to be witches, though they are nothing of the sort, and Melz is taken in by them.  The Redworld is in turmoil though, there are growing divides within the community between those who have, and those who haven’t and it is causing more than just tension.

The girls introduce Melz to Bran.  Not only is he good looking but also a very rich and powerful member of the Redworld community, Bran instantly sees that a combination between himself and Melz could only be a good thing for the world around them, and growing power is something that attracts them both.  What Melz has to decide though, is whether combining her power with Bran is really for the greater good.

I enjoyed this even more than Crow Moon and it was great to get another perspective to the story.  We learn more about the two societies in this book and I think that it helps to build up a bigger picture of the entire world that Anna McKerrow is describing in her books.  I am now on tenterhooks waiting for book three to come out as I think we are in for some powerful magic in the finale.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x