The Stone Circle. Dr Ruth Galloway Series: Elly Griffiths

The Stone Circle is number 11 in the Dr Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths and was the first book I managed to read when I was recently recovering from flu. Not being able to focus on words and concentrate enough to read is horrible enough but when you’re desperate to get stuck into the latest book of a favourite series upon release it is beyond frustrating! Still, being at the stay-in-bed stage was perfect when I did feel up to reading – no one to interrupt me as I just sat and read for hours (with nurse Poppy Cat making sure I was alright😉).

Pops and Circle

Synopsis: Forensic archaeologist Ruth becomes involved in the archaeological discovery of a second stone circle on the North Norfolk Coast (the first circle being a central theme in the first book). The unearthing of a young Iron Age girl’s body sets off a chain of events to reveal a second body buried only thirty years previously. Mysterious, sinister letters are delivered to DCI Nelson and the appearance of a familiar looking face brings past events firmly into the present. Family secrets are revealed and not only for those, who are part of the murder narrative. A spark amongst tangled feelings remains, ready to catch fire.

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What I thought…

Old friends: I am so invested in these characters that it really does feel like spending time with old friends and catching up with their news. A lot of reviewers, who love the series, write along similar lines – I love it when books give you that sense of belonging, when stories and characters become a part of  life.

Ruth: Ruth Galloway continues to be one of my absolute favourite female leads for so many reasons. She is incredibly strong, fiercely intelligent plus she has such a perceptive sense of humour. She struggles to fit into the world around her and I relate to this being on the outside of things in a major way. She makes sure her daughter Kate gets to listen Harry Potter audio books at night and reads her His Dark Materials. She loves the beauty and solitude of the Saltmarsh where her cottage lies. She has a very forthright cat called Flint, who makes wonderful cameos in the story and always steals the show. She feels very real, very human  and I especially like how Griffiths has chosen a character facing middle age, who has so much to offer the world.

Engaging writing: As a rule, I don’t really do contemporary crime fiction but there is something so engaging about Griffith’s writing, the mixture of science and ‘the other’ (superstitions, myths, the unexplained) works incredibly well and although there is a murder to be solved in each book, it is the character development which drives the narrative.

A stunning sense of place: The stark contrast of the Norfolk marshland is so well written –  you really get that sense of vast, exceptional beauty as well as an underlying potential of darkness and danger. For those who know me, it comes as no surprise to  say I’d rather like a cottage like Ruth’s please.

Continuing chemistry: Oh, Ruth and Nelson (she types, sighing)! It is such a delicious mess of a relationship; the intensity, the stubborn sparks, the multitude of repressed feelings and insecurities.

Moments of humour: There are some really subtle, wry moments of humour amongst the darker moments. Griffiths has a knack of maintaining a well-crafted balance that enables the good to prevail in the bleakest of times and I love her for it.

The Stone Circle stormed into the HB Fiction Top Ten as no.7 after only three days on sale and this makes me beyond happy as I feel Elly is finally getting more of the recognition she deserves. Apart from her books being such great reads, she as an author who goes above and beyond to connect with her readers. On the 2nd of May she is releasing her first children’s book, A Girl Called Justice, and I CANNOT WAIT! Here is the blurb from the Hachette Children’s Group website:

a girl called justice

“Missing maids, suspicious teachers and a snow storm to die for… For a fearless girl called Justice Jones, super-smart super-sleuth, it’s just the start of a spine-tingling first term at Highbury House Boarding School for the Daughters of Gentlefolk. For fans of Robin Stevens, Katherine Woodfine and Enid Blyton.”

…just my bookish cup of tea 😊

The Ice Princess

I wasn’t quite sure whether I should post the following review, as my response is very negative and I don’t like putting that out there in the world. Then again, I set out with the goal to document all the books read in The Read Around the World Book Club, which I am a part of on goodreads. So, I shall go ahead and remember this is my personal opinion only, to why the book didn’t work for me.  I know there are many people out there who really enjoy Camila Lackberg’s books, I am just not one of them.

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When I found out that October was to be Scandinavian crime month, I was quite excited as I’ve never read any of this genre despite being utterly in love with Scandinavia. I tend not to like contemporary crime as a rule and I get the impression that Scandinavian crime is often very dark and hard hitting. But this year is very much about broadening my reading horizons and the Swedish setting was a winner before I even opened the book.  A writer returning to her home town after her parents’ death, a childhood friend, who has seemingly taken her own life, a small Swedish town with a dark secret and a rather lovely local detective as the love interest. On paper, this looked really good. However…

I shall try my best to keep my thoughts concise and stick to my top five reasons why I only gave this a 1 star on Goodreads (I would have dnf-ed this book, however I did want to know how the story ended).

1. My biggest issue is that this book felt like it was trying to be something it isn’t. It is marketed as a hard hitting, shocking literary crime novel but it just doesn’t meet this description. It felt lack lustre, leaning towards the cosy (think Midsommer Murders) with language sporadically thrown in to shock (which just felt awkward). The quality wasn’t there for me either.red-snowflake-clipart-SnowFlakes_29.1.2_red

2. The female characters are largely dislikeable and often portrayed in a stereotypical way. I was really disappointed as there was such potential for complex, strong female characters in this storyline.red-snowflake-clipart-SnowFlakes_29.1.2_red

3. The portrayal of alcoholism and mental health are two dimensional and extremely stereotypical in nature. Quite honestly, this kind of writing makes me feel angry as it reinforces primitive, negative viewpoints-something our society does not need more of!

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4. Apart from the description of snow and standard Swedish baked goods, I didn’t get a sense of being in Sweden as I read. Sigh. I kept hoping.

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5. So much telling. So little showing.

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I feel that I can’t just leave the Scandinavian crime genre with this feeling of disappointment and sheer negativity, so I have ordered another book from our book club choices (which, indecently, I voted for). Fingers crossed that Last Rituals restores my faith in this genre!