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Unique Blogger Award

unique blogger award

Many thanks to Mischenko who blogs at ReadRantRock&Roll for nominating me for the Unique Blogger Award.  Mischenko’s is a blog that’s quite new to me, but one that I’m really enjoying.  I particularly like the Wednesday “Breakfast and a Book” posts!

The Rules

Share the link to the blogger who has shown love to you by nominating you.

Answer the questions.

In the spirit of sharing love and solidarity with our blogging family, nominate 8-13 people for the same award.

Ask them three questions.

Mischecnko’s Questions

  1. If you were to write a non-fiction book, what would be your subject of choice?

I’d love to say that I’m expert in some particular field, maybe related to the industry in which I work, but the truth is that I’m not, and I work in financial services, which few people are all that interested in.  Thus, any non-fiction book I wrote would undoubtedly be related to books in some way.  As a lover of post-apocalyptic fiction, I quite like the idea of reviewing the various ends that have been imagined for us, and maybe assessing the likelihood of each one actually happening.  Morbid perhaps, but I’d find it interesting.  (There’s a reason I’m not writing a non-fiction book!)

  1. Name a book that you extremely disliked this year, or last?

Earlier this year, I read Enduring Love for my book group, and I didn’t really enjoy it.  I don’t think it was a bad book, it just wasn’t to my taste.  An interesting idea, but the delivery didn’t do it for me.  I’m not averse to reading other novels by McEwan, however.

  1. Which author would you enjoy meeting the most? Doesn’t have to be living.

For me it would have to be Sir Terry Pratchett.  I’ve technically met him at a book signing, but it was so brief (and several years ago!) and as one of my favourite authors, I’d have loved the opportunity to sit down with him and just chat and laugh at the world.

My Nominations

Stuart at Always Trust in Books

Tina at Reading Between the Pages

Natalie at The Owl on the Bookshelf

Laura at Snazzy Books

Jo at Over the Rainbow Book Blog

My Questions

  1. What’s your favourite book of 2017 so far?  And I am going to insist upon a single book!
  2. I love Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series and the idea of being able to jump into and out of different books.  If you could jump into any book, what would it be and why?
  3. What is your favourite quote?
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Murder in Little Shendon by A. H. Richardson – Extract and Giveaway

Today I’m delighted to share with you an extract from Murder in Little Shendon by A. H. Richardson, and I have a giveaway for you as well!  For details of how to enter, see below!

murder in little shendon

Murder in Little Shendon is the first in a series featuring sleuths Sir Victor Hazlitt and Beresford Brandon, and is followed by Act One, Scene One – Murder, and Murder at Serenity Farm.

Here’s the synopsis for Murder in Little Shendon:

Picture, if you will, a picturesque village called Little Shendon, suddenly caught up in dealing with a murder of one of its citizens — not a particularly well-liked one at that. Which makes it all the more intriguing because the list of suspects becomes very long. This tantalizing tale unfolds with twists and turns to find out whodunit to Mr. Bartholomew Fynche, the murdered shopkeeper.

Fear grips the community as the investigation slowly progresses. Everyone is interviewed; everyone is suspect! From his housekeeper to Lady Armstrong and her household staff. Or could it be the shy librarian new in town? Or the defiant retired army major and his ladyfriend, the post mistress? Or perhaps the weird sisters who live on the edge of town? Then there is the couple who own the local inn and pub, along with the two Americans who are staying there? Even the vicar and his wife fall under the gloom of suspicion.

Uncertainty, wariness, and terror reign as neighbors watch neighbors to discover the evil that permeates their upturned lives. No one feels safe in this charming little village. Who is the murderer? And why was this strange uncivil man dispatched in such a seemingly civil community?

A murder mystery that will keep you reading until you learn the details, uncovered by Police Inspector Stanley Burgess and his two amateur detectives, Sir Victor Hazlitt and Beresford Brandon. The three sift methodically through the Alibis and life stories of the suspects until they uncover…

You are challenged to discover the culprit before the last few pages. And no fair looking ahead — it’s the journey that proves the most enticing.

And here’s an extract from the novel:

Chapter One – A Killing in The Bygone Era

BARTHOLOMEW FYNCHE LEANED OVER HIS DESK, adjusted his pince-nez and peered down at the document on his desk. He gave a series of grunts, which culminated in a long “Hmmm”.

He scratched a brief note on the pad in front of him. He always used a pen and ink because he did not approve of ballpoint pens and regarded them as signs of an uncivilized society.

Mr. Fynche turned his attention to the small jade horse in front of him, running his fingers over it gently, almost lovingly. He frowned, took a deep breath, and removed a key from around his neck. He unlocked a drawer to his desk, placed the small statue inside and carefully locked it again.

He glanced at the French Ormolu clock on the wall before consulting his watch, and pursed his lips together in annoyance. He didn’t like people who were not punctual. Time was money, and his time was particularly precious.

The retired Mr. B. Fynche had been involved in a number of most interesting exploits in his life, not the least of which involved his extraordinary knowledge of rare documents, famous objets d’art, and rare paintings. It was rumored that he had been involved with MI5 just after the war, but no one was quite certain about this. Nowadays he puttered fairly contentedly in his antique shop, which he had named The Bygone Era.

He did the occasional appraisal for some local villagers and was occasionally persuaded to go into London (a trip he detested) to authenticate something or other for the odd client he had. He was, as far as anyone knew, unmarried, quite without family, with the exception of a sister who was rumored to live in New Zealand and a brother who was deceased.

At first glance, Fynche’s little shop seemed to be an untidy mass of bric-a-brac, consisting of small statues, framed documents, interesting looking things in glass cases, paintings of all descriptions, prints, watches, chains and… much much more. Mr. Fynche however, knew exactly where everything was, referring to it on occasion as organized clutter.

Today was Thursday, better known as early closing day when most if not all the shops in the village closed about noon, and The Bygone Era was no exception. Fynche liked to lock the doors, put up the CLOSED sign and busy himself with his latest project, and he had many of those.

The little man glanced down once again at some notes he had made. For the first time in his life, he was not quite sure how to deal with this. Probably the best policy was to be frank and explain that this was not something with which he chose to be involved. He scratched the back of his head thoughtfully. Perhaps no mention of the police should be made at this juncture, for he felt instinctively that he would have to be careful here.

A knock on the door interrupted his reverie and Fynche’s eyes again darted up to the clock. He frowned, realizing that the knock was coming from the back door, which was rarely used. Thoroughly disgruntled, the old man unlatched the door.

“Come in,” he said curtly, “and see that you close the door behind you.” He paused, then growled in a surly manner, “You’re late; we need to talk.”

“I’m sorry. There was some work left to do,” answered the other. A breeze blew through the open window behind Fynche’s desk.

“Close the window, please. That wretched cleaning woman always leaves the window open, and it blows my papers all around.”

“Very well.” His visitor closed the window obediently.

“Come around to the front, where I can see you. Something quite interesting has come up and we need to talk. Clearly, decisions have to be made here. Did you hear me…?”

Fynche made a half-turn, threw up his hands defensively, and gave a smothered cry, but it was too late. The broad brass base of an Edwardian candle holder was wielded aloft and came crashing down with a sickening thud into Mr. Fynche’s skull. Blood flew everywhere, seeping into the dark wood of the desk and into some papers and puddling on to the floor.

Mr. Bartholomew Fynche, open-mouthed and eyes glazed, his hands futilely clutching at the air, slumped over the side of his chair and onto the floor… very very dead.

The visitor spent a moment or two looking around the cluttered shop, hunting for something, but then thought better of it. With a sudden gesture, the visitor pried a large gold ring from Mr. Fynche’s finger, hastily made the decision to leave and, used The Bygone Era’s back door as the avenue of escape. The door was closed quietly, and the visitor slipped out noiselessly into the anonymity of the bustling throng of last-minute shoppers in the High Street. It was a bright sunny day in late spring.


About the Author

A. H. Richardson

H. Richardson was born in London England and is the daughter of famous pianist and composer Clive Richardson. She studied drama and acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. She was an actress, a musician, a painter and sculptor, and now an Author.

She published her debut novel Jorie and the Magic Stones, a children’s chapter book, in December 2014. At the request of those who loved the first ‘Jorie’ story, Richardson has written a sequel titled Jorie and the Gold Key, and she is currently working on the third book in the series.

A.H. Richardson also enjoys writing murder mysteries and who-dun-its. She is the author of the Hazlitt/Brandon series of murder mystery novels. The series follows a pair of clever, colorful and charismatic sleuths – Sir Victor Hazlitt and Beresford Brandon. The series includes Murder in Little Shendon, Act One, Scene One – Murder, and Murder at Serenity Farm.

Hazlitt Brandon MM'S.png

H. Richardson lives happily in East Tennessee, her adopted state, and has three sons, three grandchildren, and two pugs. She speaks four languages and loves to do voiceovers. She plans on writing many more books and hopes to delight her readers further with her British twist, which all her books have.

Readers can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

To learn more, go to https://ahrichardson.com/


Giveaway

Kelsey at Book Publicity Services has very kindly offered to provide one copy of Murder in Little Shendon (Kindle of paperback, and open internationally) to one lucky reader.

To enter, either leave a comment below, or retweet my pinned tweet by midnight (UK time) in 17 July 2017.

Good luck!

Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag

Is it mid-year already?  How did that happen?!

Many thanks to Tina at Reading Between the Pages for tagging me into this.  We, or at least I, so rarely get the time to pause and take stock, and it can be nice to look back over the last 6 months, as well as ahead to what’s coming up.

1) The best book you’ve read so far this year?

the-dry

Ask me on a different day and you’ll get a different answer, as I’ve read some amazing books this year, but the one that sprang to mind when I read the question was The Dry by Jane Harper.

I loved the setting, the characters, the writing, the twists in the plot.  Basically, this book has it all.

2) Your favourite sequel this year?

waking-gods

I adored Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, and I was eagerly awaiting Waking Gods, which did not disappoint.

I love the epistolary format of both novels, and it was interesting to see what became of the characters a few years down the line, as well as finding out more about the nameless interviewer.

3) A new release that you haven’t read yet but really want to?

new boy

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier.  Part of the Hogarth Shakespeare Project, this is the first in that series that is based upon a play that I’m familiar with, telling as it does the story of Othello in a rather different setting.  I’m really looking forward to reading this!

4)  Most anticipated release for the second half of the year?

godsgrave

There are so many releases that I’m looking forward to over the second half of the year, but the one that springs to mind is Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff.  I LOVED Nevernight, and I can’t wait to see where the story goes next.

5) Your biggest disappointment?

the-sellout

The Sellout by Paul Beatty.  This was a book chosen by my book group, and I was looking forward to it as it also fits in with my Booker Prize Challenge (yes, that is still going on, although I haven’t read a Booker winner for longer than I care to admit).  The main issue was that I couldn’t get into it – I found it to be extremely hard work.  Additionally, the humour is very American, and as such, I found that some of it went over my head.

6) Biggest surprise of the year?

a clockwork orange

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess.  This was another book group read, and one that I enjoyed much more than I expected to.  It’s not an easy read, and the language is difficult to get to grips with, but it’s worth persevering with.

7) Favourite new to you or debut author?

defender

G. X. Todd, author of Defender.  I loved her debut novel, and I can’t wait to read the next instalment in this series.

8) Your new fiction crush?

Hmmmm… I always struggle with this one, as I don’t really do fictional crushes.  Nope, sorry – can’t think of any! ☹

9) New favourite character?

for the winner

This is another tough one, but I’ll go for Atalanta from For the Winner.  I loved her attitude to life, and her determination to be treated as an equal, despite the view that women were largely considered to be property at the time.

10) A book that made you cry?

Eleanor Oliphant

It doesn’t happen often, but Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine prompted a tear or two.  Whilst I didn’t take to her at first, Eleanor is a great character, and I was fully invested in her story by the end.

11) A book that made you happy?

I’m struggling with this one!  I genuinely cannot think of a good answer to this question.  I have a tendency towards books that are bleak in nature, and so happy isn’t usually a factor.

12) Your favourite book to movie adaptation that you’ve seen this year?

the girl on the train

I really enjoyed the adaptation of Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train.  I loved the book, and thought that the film was really well done.

13) Favourite book post you’ve published this year?

I think that it’s nice to do the occasional post that isn’t a book review, and I do particularly like writing up by experiences at Hay Festival.  I also enjoyed putting together my Blogiversary Giveaway post, as it was a chance to give back something to everyone who has supported me over the last two years.

14) The most beautiful book you have bought/received this year?

The Wanderers by Meg Howrey.  I think that these pictures don’t quite do it justice, but the cover is lovely, and I love the little cut out detail, and the two little embossed people.  And those end papers!

15) What are some books that you need to read by the end of the year?

Here are a few of the books from my TBR that I REALLY want to read:

Skitter by Ezekial Boone – the follow up to The Hatching which I read last year and really enjoyed, despite the spiders!

The Ice by Laline Paull – I loved The Bees and can’t wait to read her second novel

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman – a book I picked up this year’s Hay Festival.  I’m less familiar with Norse mythology, but I’m really looking forward to this

Yesterday by Felicia Yap – a debut novel that will be published in August, and that I’m lucky enough to have a proof of!


I’m tagging in:

Renee @ It’s book Talk

Laura @ Snazzy Books

Susan @ Books from Dusk Till Dawn

And anyone else that feels like taking part!

Blogiversary Giveaway Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered my two year blogiversary giveaway to win this little bundle of goodies:

giveaway 1

Once again I was overwhelmed with the support and good wishes from you guys – book people really are the best people!

I’m thrilled to announce that the winner of the giveaway is:

Emma at damppebbles.com

Congratulations, Emma! I’ll be in touch shortly to get your details and will get your prize sent over to you in the next few days.  I hope you enjoy it!

Blogiversary Giveaway

At the weekend, I marked the two year anniversary of my blog, and said that I would do a giveaway to mark the occasion.  I have to say that I was overwhelmed by the good wishes I received – honestly, you guys are the best! 🙂

So, the giveaway – I’ve put together the following little package:

  • A signed copy of Paula Hawkins’ new novel, Into the Water
  • A Paperchase notebook
  • Some Hotel Chocolat goodies

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight on 8 June 2017 – the winner will be chosen at random after this date.  UK entrants only please!

It’s My Second Blogiversary!

Today, Jo’s Book Blog turns 2!

When I started this blog as a way of sharing my love of books with other like-minded people, I wasn’t sure whether it would work, whether I’d be able to put enough content together, whether anyone would actually give a monkey’s about my opinions.  I’ll be honest – two years in, I still have all these doubts, but what I have found is that the blogging community is absolutely wonderful, and I’ve “met” lots of wonderful people through running my blog, and it’s been worth it just for that!

So to celebrate, and as a little thank you, I’m going to put together a little giveaway, the details of which I’ll post in the next couple of days.

 

The Liebster Award

liebster 2017

I’ve been nominated for The Liebster Award by the lovely Natalie who blogs at The Owl on the Bookshelf, and if you aren’t a follower of Natalie’s blog, then you should go and check it out.  I love the variety of books that Natalie reviews as well as the gorgeous Owl that makes a regular appearance.


Here are the rules:

  • Thank the person/blog who nominated you
  • Answer the 11 questions they wrote for you
  • Nominate 11 people
  • Give them your set of 11 questions to answer

Without further ado, here are the questions that Natalie posed:

What was the last book you bought?

Devotion

The last book I bought was Devotion by Ros Barber, a book that I’ve been wanting to read for a while. Here is the synopsis from Amazon:

Set in the near future where religious fundamentalism is on the verge of being classified as a form of mental illness, Finlay Logan is a criminal psychologist who must assess the sanity of April, a young woman who has blown up a bus and killed fifteen teenagers, citing religious reasons as her primary motive. At the same time, Logan is grieving over the death of his daughter who died in a terrible accident. When Logan comes across the radical psychological practices of Dr Salmon, he feels her controversial techniques may be able to help him understand April’s behaviour. But when he discovers that Dr Salmon is able to communicate with the dead, his own life begins to unravel, especially when he begins to suspect that a former romantic rival might have been involved in his daughter’s death. Weaving together a moving story of grief with a gripping and topical narrative about religion, science and the role that psychology plays to bridge the gap, Devotion is an ambitious and highly readable novel that asks fundamental questions about the nature of reality when balancing the emotional and rational sides of human experience.

What book(s) have been on your TBR the longest?

long dark dusk

The book that has been on my TBR the longest (I bought it in April 2016) is Long Dark Dusk by J. P. Smythe.  I bought it when it was first published as the first novel in the series, Way Down Dark, was one of my favourites of 2015, but I decided to wait until the third and final instalment, Dark Made Dawn, was published before reading it.  Big mistake, as I’ve not managed to read either of them yet!  These titles are both in my Beat the Backlist Challenge, however, so I definitely will read them soon!

What is your favourite book of 2017 so far?

It’s so difficult to pick just one, so I’m going to cheat (sorry, Natalie!)

Narrowing it down to three, I would say:

  • The Dry by Jane Harper – a riveting read about a small Australian town which follows an investigation into an apparent murder-suicide
  • The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown – a stunning debut giving a ficitional account of infamous Witchfinder, Matthew Hopkins
  • The Wanderers by Meg Howrey – a beautiful novel about the experiences of three astronauts and their families as they are picked for the first manned mission to Mars

Three very different novels, but all exceptional.

What book are you most looking forward to that is being published this year?

waking-gods

There are quite a few that I’m looking forward to this year, but the standout one is Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel, the follow up to Sleeping Giants, one of my favourite novels of 2016.

Luckily for me, it’s being published on 6 April, so I don’t have too long to wait now!  😃

What book do you want to re-read the most, if any?

I don’t do a lot of rereading, but I will reread George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series when the next novel in this series, The Winds of Winter, is released.

What book would you recommend as a perfect book to join you on holiday? (Looking for inspiration for my forthcoming holiday!)

For me, holiday reads tend towards dystopian, post-apocalyptic, fantasy, and psychological thrillers i.e. the books that I typically read when I’m not on holiday.  I like something that you can absolutely lost in, be it a new world, or a narrative that it is utterly gripping.

I’m going on holiday later this month (woo hoo!), and my current plan is to read:

  • The Revenant by Michael Punke
  • The Method by Shannon Kirk
  • Mister Memory by Marcus Sedgwick

This is subject to change, however – I find it really difficult to plan what I’m going to read in advance, as I always feel differently once I’m out there.  Hurrah for Kindles and being able to take as many books as I want with me!

What is your favourite book that is a sequel/part of a series?

a conjuring of light

I’m thoroughly enjoying V. E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic series that began with A Darker Shade of Magic and continued in A Gathering of Shadows.  I do have the final instalment, A Conjuring of Light, which thinking about it now, I may also try to read on holiday!

What book do you wish had a sequel/was part of a series?

I’m going to cheat a little here, as these books are part of a series, but I’m still waiting on the next instalment in Patrick Rothfuss’s The Kingkiller Chronicle, which started with The Name of the Wind and continued in The Wise Man’s Fear.  There has been a novella published in this series, too – The Slow Regard of Silent Things – but Kvothe’s tale is not yet complete!

What book would you love to see adapted for film/television?

My stock answer for this has always been The Handmaid’s Tale, but it feels as though I’d be cheating to say that now that it HAS been made into a TV series (which I am extremely pleased about, even as it seems to be getting closer to being a documentary given recent events).

Slade House

As such, I would love to see David Mitchell’s Slade House brought to life (although not by whoever produced the film Cloud Atlas, which did nothing for me whatsoever, despite it being one of my favourite books!)

Time to judge a book by its cover! What book features your favourite cover art?

There are quite a few options for this, but one that sprung to mind (and if you ask me on a different day I’ll probably give you a different answer) was Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes.look who's back

I just love the simplicity of the design, but how it says quite a bit about what the book is about.

Who is your favourite fictional character, and why?

My favourite fictional character is Susan Sto Helit from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Series – Death’s granddaughter, no less.  I can’t really tell you why, she just is!


I nominate:

And my questions are:

  1. A nice easy one to start you off – what are you currently reading?
  2. Who is your favourite author?
  3. What was your favourite book of 2016?
  4. Where do you like to read?
  5. Are there any fictional characters that share your name?
  6. What books did you like to read as a child?
  7. What is your favourite bookish quote?
  8. What book would you recommend to someone who doesn’t enjoy reading? (Yes, I believe that there are such people out there!)
  9. Why did you start your blog?
  10. More generally, what do you like to do when you’re not reading?
  11. If you could have any superhero power, what would it be?