The Hungry Bookling

A journey through books and the imagination

Sometimes the smallest and simplest things in life develop into the strongest and dearest of memories without you ever realising it at the time. It occurs to me we have no choice as to which stay with us. 

My grandma liked fish and chips with bits on. For those of you who don’t know, it is chips with crumbs of fish batter. (And for my American friends: think fat fries with crumbs of fish batter!) On occasion, I would deliver them to her wrapped in a vinegary soaked newspaper parcel. (This was obviously a time before the fish and chips shopped stopped the use of newspapers in their wrapping) 

I don’t know why but chips in newspaper wrapping always tasted better to me, or is it just nostalgia?…maybe.

As I kid I remember looking down at the neatly wrapped parcels and at their distorted print with warped photos, wondering if the people in those stories ever realised they ended up as greased food wrapping. 

I spent a lot of Sundays with my grandma, she lived a couple of streets away and it meant I could walk up to her house by myself. A personal freedom I relished.  I never felt like going shopping with my mum and my sister and so staying with my grandma for a few hours was the obvious choice. 

My grandma was unapologetically real and strong willed, gifted with a wry smile. A smile shared by my mum. Grandma had a strength and an unrelenting surety of character that became so reliable to me. I would always find her wedged into her wingback chair the closest position to the horse racing on a crackling television. I would make a cup of tea for us both and then I would sit at her feet, legs crossed, reading my book until her race had finished. She had a small display cabinet in the corner of the room and occasionally my eyes would drift over and investigate all the little ornaments within its grasp. I always hunted out my favourite: a small wire tree with foil leaves. She called it her money tree, but to me it was a wishing tree and every now and again she would allow me to open up the glass doors to the cabinet and make a wish on the tree. A foil leaf trapped hopefully between my fingers. 

No, I am not going to tell you what I wished for…because I honestly do not remember!  

When the horse race on the television had finished and my grandma in turn had finished shouting at the tv, we would chat and the afternoon would run its course with the pair of us greedily watching episodes of ‘Columbo’ and ‘Murder She Wrote’ discussing the plots as they developed.’  She loved a good murder mystery and the television adaptations of Agatha Christie’s stories were also some of her favourites. Perhaps that is why I love a story with a twist. I loved the guessing game and the surprise at the end. 

Still, to this day whenever I see one of those programmes on the television it is an odd comfort to me, it reminds of those happy Sundays spent with my grandma and the wishing tree. 

I don’t know what ever happened to my grandma’s wishing tree, but if I ever found it again, I know  what I would wish for… one more Sunday spent just like that. 

In honour of my grandma and her love for good mystery/thrillers I have reviewed the following thriller fiction books for this post.(Not for children!) One of the books I shared the title of, in advance, in my previous post with hopes some of you would read along with me. Maybe I like the idea of getting to discuss the plot again with someone? Who knows! 

The Empty Bed: A Novel (The Burial Society Series)  by Nina Sadowsky : Thriller/Fiction

The ‘Empty Bed’ is the second book in the Burial Society Series by Nina Sadowsky’. However, this is the first book I have read of the author (and of the series) and in my opinion this book stands for itself, so feel free to be a rebel like me and read out of series order! You should also know I chose to listen to this book as an audiobook as I am trying out different formats. So whilst I do say I have read the book, I actually mean I ‘listened’ to the book. I will talk more about the audiobook version later, but I will say this: whether you choose to listen to or read the book, in my opinion, this story is worth it in whichever format. 

Catherine is the leader of ‘The Burial Society’, a witness protection programme, who’s team is called into investigate the disappearance of married American woman: Eva Lombard. Eva has gone missing overnight during a romantic holiday with her husband in Hong Kong. 

I must admit the plot appealed to me on this one, it just seemed my kind of book and I am happy to say this book had me hooked from the first line. There is something about Nina Sadowsky’s writing style which I instantly enjoyed. There is an intricate web of well thought out characters. As this book is part of a series Eva’s storyline shares centre stage with the already established back story of the ‘Burial Society’ however, I think this works well. I found the author’s description’s fresh and original and the story is engaging with a clear style of its own. It has made me want to read more of the series and perhaps I will invest more time in ‘series’ fiction which as a genre is new to me.  I would certainly not ‘bury’ this book to the bottom of the pile – get it? 

In regards to the audio book version of the book, I am new to audiobooks, but my eldest sister is a big fan so I thought I would give them a go. For me I tend to find with audiobooks that I can be occasionally be put off by the narrator’s voice and this can impact on my enjoyment of the book, however I am pleased to say on this occasion I thought the narration was well delivered and not off putting.

Deep Dark Secrets by Keri Beevis: Thriller/Fiction 

‘Deep Dark Secret’s by Keri Beevis is the book I shared in an early post,  in the hopes that some of you would read along with me. 

The book’s central character is Nell, a middle-aged woman haunted by both an abusive relationship and a tragedy that occurred when she was a teenager: Nell’s best friend Lizzie was murdered during a night’s babysitting gig that Nell should have been babysitting for. What is prevalent in this book is the consequences of actions and how those actions impact massively on not just the person, but those around them. Occasionally, in my opinion, I felt the pace dropped slightly in places within the story, but I thought the storytelling shone through with well developed and realistically unique characters that were well expressed. This is an interesting, thought provoking romance thriller with many intriguing characters and enough to keep you guessing. I would read this author again. I am keen to know, for those of you who did read with me, what are your thoughts on the book?

The Donor: Quick Reads 2020 by Clare Mackintosh: Fiction, Thriller/Short Story

Want a quick read on your commute to or from work? In my opinion, I think this short story will fit the bill. Lizzie Thomas’ daughter Meg has a heart transplant and needless to say the family are incredibly grateful. Then the donar’s mother Karen gets in contact and events begin to spiral. This is a brilliantly written short story, told in the main from the perspective of Lizzie, I found it to be a fast paced and exciting read, which I would eagerly recommend. These quick read books are a fantastic idea, perfect for those readers with little time on their hands and also a great mini introduction to the authors – I will be definitely picking up more books from Clare Mackintosh after reading this well crafted short story.

As always I would love to hear from you, comments welcome and if you do read any of the books I have blogged about I would love to know what you think of them too!

2 thoughts on “Fish, chips and the wishing tree

  1. Judith says:

    I will be reading The Donor without fail Shelley. sometimes I like a short story instead of a long novel that I can hardly hold in my hands.Well done with Site . you make it very interesting to read.

    1. Hi Judith, thanks so much. I hope you enjoy ‘The Donor’ as much as I did, you will have to let me know what you think! Thanks for reading my blog!!

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