Stevie Carroll (stevie_carroll) wrote,
Stevie Carroll

Books Read and Listened To

Biggish bunch so I can keep on top of things...

Not So Quiet: Stepdaughters of War
by Helen Zenna Smith
Published by Virago Press Ltd
Print book
ISBN 9780860688501

Published pseudonymously and based on a young woman's wartime diary, this is a novel written by the author Evadne Price who was an actress and who was particularly known for her children's fiction.


Initially commissioned as a parody of All Quiet on the Western Front, this was instead written as a harrowing, first person, present tense account of life close to the front line through much of the First World War. Particularly of note were the contrasts between the parents back home, those who were out there (not just those stationed with the narrator but also the friends she corresponded with or met when their leaves coincided) and, of course, those who were soon to go out for the first time; also the contrast between the lives of the upper class women doing high profile volunteer work and the working class women who were paid to do the equally vital but less noticed work (e.g. drivers vs kitchen staff). A book everyone should read this year to counteract the jingoism I'm starting to fear we'll have forced upon us.

Hamlet (Manga Shakespeare)
by Richard Appignanesi (Adaptor), William Shakespeare, Emma Vieceli
Published by Selfmadehero
Print book
ISBN 9780955285615

The future - a divided world. A great quake divides our planet. Separate colonies have formed and the state of Denmark has grown seemingly prosperous. Its founding family is wealthy; their residence a palace equal to those of ages past. Success, though, breeds corruption - and it could be that the greatest threat of all, over and above challenges from other states, comes from within the walls of Elsinore. The young Hamlet, grieving over his father's death, is plunged into a dark world of misgiving and suspicion when the ghost of his sire appears to him...


Picked up before I picked 'Hamlet' as my very first MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), but read for the first time in preparation for starting the course. A very neatly cut-down version with characters well-defined enough that I only had to flick back to the cast portraits at the beginning a couple of times. Also much love for the occasional chibis in between the serious artwork.

The Secret Rooms: A True Story of a Haunted Castle, a Plotting Duchess, and a Family Secret
by Catherine Bailey
Published by Penguin Paperback Original
ISBN 9780143124733

For fans of "Downton Abbey" the enthralling true story of family secrets and aristocratic intrigue in the days before WWI After the Ninth Duke of Rutland, one of the wealthiest men in Britain, died alone in a cramped room in the servants' quarters of Belvoir Castle on April 21, 1940, his son and heir ordered the room, which contained the Rutland family archives, sealed. Sixty years later, Catherine Bailey became the first historian given access. What she discovered was a mystery: The Duke had painstakingly erased three periods of his life from all family records--but why? As Bailey uncovers the answers, she also provides an intimate portrait of the very top of British society in the turbulent days leading up to World War I.


Reviewed on The Good, The Bad, & The Unread.

Under the Jeweled Sky
by Alison McQueen
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN 9781402288760

A breathtaking story of forbidden love and devastating consequences...

The moment Sophie steps onto India's burning soil, she realizes her return was inevitable. But this is not the India she fell in love with ten years before in a maharaja's palace. This is not the India that ripped her heart out as Partition tore the country in two. That India, a place of tigers, scorpions, and shimmering beauty, is long gone.

Drawing on her own family's heritage, acclaimed novelist Alison McQueen beautifully portrays the heart of a woman who must confront her past in order to fight for her future. Under the Jeweled Sky deftly explores the loss of innocence, the urgent connection in our stars, and how we'll go to find our hearts.


Reviewed on The Good, The Bad, & The Unread.

The Time Of The Hunter's Moon
by Victoria Holt
Published by Harper
Print book
ISBN 9780007235520

When Cordelia Grant takes a post in a girls' school situated in the ruins of a Devon abbey, she she becomes disturbed by the sinister landowner, Sir Jason Verringer. Tension mounts when the school stages a pageant at the time of the Midsummer Moon and Cordelia is forced to re-live her own past experience of that mystical date! During the last weeks of her stay in an exclusive finishing school in Switzerland, Cordelia Grant, in the company of three friends, had a strange experience in a nearby forest. It was at the time of the Hunter's Moon which was said to be of special significance, and the attractive man whom the girls encountered seemed to them to be a mysterious figure conjured up out of local legend. When Cordelia met him again she discovered that there was indeed something very extraordinary about him. Returning to England where her much-loved Aunt Patty, who had been like a mother to her, was unable to carry out the plans they had made together, Cordelia took a post in a girls' school which was situated among the ancient ruins of a Devon abbey. There she became disturbed by Sir Jason Verringer, the local landowner to whom the abbey belonged, and whom she met for the first time when he was returning from his wife's funeral. He had a sinister reputation and there were rumours about his wife's death as well as unsavoury gossip concerning the mistress whom he had installed with her child -- presumed to be his -- in one of the houses on his estate. Yet in spite of her determination to remain aloof, Cordelia was drawn to him. Tension mounted at the time of the Midsummer Moon when a pageant was staged by the school among the abbey ruins; and when Cordelia had news from the girls who had shared her forest adventure, she began to realise that the past was becoming dangerously entwined with the present.


Competently written but ultimately unsatisfactory gothic novel in which the hero behaves too badly to be redeemed by only a minor accident (his behaviour is worse than Mr Rochester's in my opinion and all his injuries seem to be temporary). The interesting mystery of the early chapters vanishes in the middle and not enough hints are dropped about some of those involved before the story picks up again. And the third strand of the plot involving the hero's supposed illegitimate child and the disappearance of her mother gets finally wrapped up pretty much as an afterthought.

Locked In (DS Jessica Daniel Book 1)
by Kerry Wilkinson
Published by Pan Books
Print book
ISBN 9781447225645

When a body is found in a locked house, Detective Sergeant Jessica Daniel is left to not only find the killer but discover how they got in and out. With little in the way of leads and a journalist that seems to know more about the case than she does, Jessica is already feeling the pressure -- and that's before a second body shows up in identical circumstances to the first. How can a murderer get to victims in seemingly impossible situations and what, if anything, links the bodies?


I love a good locked room mystery, but this one was disappointing. The solution was obvious to me from early on, although it didn't occur to any of those investigating until after all the main murders had taken place. Also, the motivating factor behind the crimes and reasoning behind the killer's choice of victims have been used to much greater effect recently by an author I have a lot of respect for. The rather bland protagonist and nondescript supporting cast mean I won't be reading the rest of this series.

by Carsen Taite
Published by Bold Strokes Books
ISBN 9781602829664

Prosecutor Danielle Soto believes her position on the sorority killer task force is a perfect way to advance her career, but her plans don’t include falling hard for a captivating woman who lives in a completely different world. When the investigation and her attraction to Ellen Davenport collide, Danny must choose between the safety of sameness and the peril of the unknown.

Ellen Davenport has secrets, but until Danny Soto entered her life, she hadn’t realized that protecting her privacy would come at such a high price. Can she explore her attraction to Danny without exposing herself and her family to danger, or must she risk everything for love?


Reviewed on The Good, The Bad, & The Unread.

The Next Best Thing
by Jennifer Weiner
Published by Simon & Schuster
Audio book
ISBN 9781442348929

Blockbuster #1 "New York Times" bestselling author Jennifer Weiner returns with an irresistible story about a young woman trying to make it in Hollywood... At twenty-three, Ruth Saunders headed west with her seventy-year-old grandma in tow, hoping to be hired as a television writer. Four years later, she's hit the jackpot when she gets The Call: the sitcom she wrote, "The Next Big Thing," has gotten the green light, and Ruthie's going to be the show-runner. But her dreams of Hollywood happiness are threatened by demanding actors, number-crunching executives, an unrequited crush on a boss, and her grandmother's impending nuptials. Set against the fascinating backdrop of Los Angeles show business culture, with an insider's ear and eye for writer's rooms, bad behavior backstage and set politics, Jennifer Weiner's new novel is a rollicking ride on the Hollywood rollercoaster and a heartfelt story about what it's like for a young woman to love, and lose, in the land where dreams come true.

Cute story about a group of people who don't quite fit in with the Hollywood ideal. Ruth has extensive scarring from the accident that killed her parents when she was a baby, her longtime crush, Little Dave (one half of the 'Two Daves' screenwriting team) is paralysed from the waist down, and her grandmother is growing old gracefully (and enjoying the chance to finally act, even if most of her roles involve sitting in waiting rooms on TV medical dramas and knitting rather than speaking). Ruth wants to make a show about a girl just like her: Jewish, normal sized, and surrounded by other ordinary people, some of whom are well over 30 and look it – a show that will cheer people the way the Golden Girls cheered her as a pre-teen in hospital. After the network turns the show into something very different, and then cancels it, Ruth decides to take matters into her own hands. A smashing book, which I want to buy in print and read all over again.
Tags: audio books, ebooks, good-bad-unread, goodreads, print books, reviews
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