So the end of another year and a final look at what I managed to add to the book mountain. In case you think I might be exaggerating Goodreads informs me I have 3268 e-books waiting to be read and 642 physical books on my bookshelves. This latter only includes those titles I actually put on Goodreads and does not include the bulk of my non fiction titles or older fiction works. Given that I’m now 60, I think it’s fair to say that it’s unlikely I’m ever going to read them all. Something that others regularly point out to me when I’m buying another. Strangely (and thankfully) not my OH, who accepts my book buying foibles with good grace – though that might be because so far I’ve managed to house the physical copies without too much disruption to the normal functioning of most rooms. It has to be said that the only rooms in the house that do not contain book cases are the main bedroom and bathrooms. Otherwise you’re never more than a few strides away from a book depository.
So having admitted that you might think, that this would be the time to mark a line in the sand and make some resolutions for the coming year. Well it could be, but it won’t. I no longer ‘do’ resolutions. I’ve lived long enough to accept that for the most part you are setting yourself up to fail, with goals that if you really wanted to achieve them, wouldn’t be waiting until Jan 1st. Life is too short, too unpredictable and too uncontrollable to be adding the further pressure of unrealistic goals. Set yourself achieveable and realistic ones by all means but lay off the pressure. So with that in mind I will not be imposing any book buying bans, I might attempt to be a bit more selective, but not buying is never going to happen. Doesn’t matter they might never be read, I don’t spend a fortune on them and I get pleasure from knowing that a particular title is there if I want it. No unrealistic reading targets either, if the last year has taught me anything, it’s that life gets in the way. Do what you can, when you can and because you want to and NOT because you have too, where’s the fun in that?
So with that said, here’s the book haul for December.
(Click on image for non-affiliated buying link)
It’s very nearly Christmas and, temporarily jobless and homeless, Noelle is back at home with her parents. However, a phone call from her cousin Joe, who runs a house-and-pet-sitting service, saves her from a festive season of Whist, boredom and overindulging.
So Noelle is off to France to mind a dozen South American mammals. She arrives amidst a blizzard and quickly discovers that something is definitely wrong at the farm. The animals are there all right, but pretty much nothing else – no power, no furniture and, disastrously, no fee. Add to that a short-tempered intruder in the middle of the night, a premature delivery, long-lost relatives and participation in a living crèche, and this is shaping up to be a noel that Noelle will never forget.
Fa-La-Llama-La is a feel-good, festive and fun romcom with a resourceful heroine, a hero who’s a bit of a handful and some right woolly charmers.
One Christmas can change everything…
Georgine loves Christmas. The festive season always brings the little village of Middledip to life. But since her ex-boyfriend walked out, leaving her with crippling debts, Georgine’s struggled to make ends meet.
To keep her mind off her worries, she throws herself into organising the Christmas show at the local school. And when handsome Joe Blackthorn becomes her assistant, Georgine’s grateful for the help. But there’s something about Joe she can’t quite put her finger on. Could there be more to him than meets the eye?
Georgine’s past is going to catch up with her in ways she never expected. But can the help of friends new and old make this a Christmas to remember after all?
What must Estella sacrifice to make her mark?
1940: Parisian seamstress Estella Bissette is forced to flee France as the Germans advance. She is bound for Manhattan with a few francs, one suitcase, her sewing machine and a dream: to have her own atelier.
2015: Australian curator Fabienne Bissette journeys to the annual Met Gala for an exhibition of her beloved grandmother’s work – one of the world’s leading designers of ready-to-wear. But as Fabienne learns more about her grandmother’s past, she uncovers a story of tragedy, heartbreak and secrets – and the sacrifices made for love.
Siglufjörður: an idyllically quiet fishing village on the northernmost tip of Iceland, accessible only via a small mountain tunnel.
Ari Thór Arason: a local policeman, whose tumultuous past and uneasy relationships with the villagers continue to haunt him.
The peace of this close-knit community is shattered by the murder of a policeman – shot at point-blank range in the dead of night in a deserted house. With a killer on the loose and the dark arctic winter closing in, it falls to Ari Thór to piece together a puzzle that involves tangled local politics, a compromised new mayor, and a psychiatric ward in Reykjavik, where someone is being held against their will. Then a mysterious young woman moves to the area, on the run from something she dare not reveal, and it becomes all too clear that tragic events from the past are weaving a sinister spell that may threaten them all.
On the shores of a tranquil fjord in Northern Iceland, a man is brutally beaten to death on a bright summer’s night. As the 24-hour light of the arctic summer is transformed into darkness by an ash cloud from a recent volcanic eruption, a young reporter leaves Reykajvik to investigate on her own, unaware that an innocent person’s life hangs in the balance.
Ari Thór Arason and his colleagues on the tiny police force in Siglufjörður struggle with an increasingly perplexing case, while their own serious personal problems push them to the limit. What secrets does the dead man harbour, and what is the young reporter hiding? As silent, unspoken horrors from the past threaten them all, and the darkness deepens, it’s a race against time to find the killer before someone else dies…
As Edie Jones lies in a bed on the fourteenth floor of a Cambridge hospital, her adult daughter Dido tells their story, starting with the day that changed everything.
That was the day Dido – aged exactly six years and twenty-seven days old – met the next door neighbours and fell in love.
Because the Trevelyans were exactly the kind of family Dido dreamed of.
Father and Son, Landyn and Vale Midwinter, are Suffolk farmers, living together on land their family has worked for generations. But they are haunted there by a past they have long refused to confront: the death of Cecelia, beloved wife and mother, when Vale was just a child. Both men have carried her loss, unspoken. Until now.
With the onset of a mauling winter, something between them snaps.
While Vale makes increasingly desperate decisions, Landyn retreats, finding solace in the land, his animals – and a vixen who haunts the farm and seems to bring with her both comfort and protection.
Tender and lyrical, alive to language and nature, Midwinter is a novel about guilt, blame, lost opportunities and, ultimately, it is a story about love and the lengths we will go to find our way home.
On a hot summer’s morning, a young father is found murdered in a cornfield, outside the quiet town of Colton. Tied to a post, arms spread wide; Detective Robyn Carter is reminded of the crucifixion, and she knows she’s looking for a killer with a twisted sense of right and wrong.
The victim’s girlfriend is devastated, unable to fathom how she will tell her sick little boy. Still reeling from her own loss, Robyn vows she will find the killer – no matter what.
But then a local doctor – a popular woman with a young family of her own – is found dead outside her surgery. There are similarities between her and the first body and Robyn must take another look at the picture-postcard town, where no one has any enemies.
Can Robyn untangle the hidden web of secrets, lies, and smouldering grudges, at the heart of this close-knit community, before another life is lost?
A wedding they’ll never forget.
Eric Sibley has it all; great job, big house, beautiful family. Even when his estranged father dies, Eric can’t help but dream about the luxuries he’ll spend his inheritance on. Unfortunately, Eric’s late father, had other ideas.
Life quickly becomes a chaotic kaleidoscope of grumpy pensioners, wellington boots and vintage automobiles as Eric is forced to juggle his hectic career and family life in London, with regular visits to the small riverside town of Burlam.
Plagued by heavy machinery mishaps, missed deadlines and drug raids, it’s not long before his job, his marriage and his sanity are hanging in the balance. Will he get his hands on his father’s treasured Aston Martin before he loses all three?
A tale of love, murder and obsession in the early days of recorded sound.
Set in the murky backstage world of late Victorian theatreland, The Industry of Human Happiness is about the obsessive characters who dreamed of bringing recorded music to the masses.
Max and his younger cousin Rusty have a vision of launching the gramophone industry from a Covent Garden basement. But a renowned opera singer is brutally murdered in his hotel bed and they are thrust into the underworld of opium dens, brothels and extortion.
Ghosts from the past and a contested inheritance turn the cousins against each other, and they go head-to-head to launch rival talking machines. With Max’s sweetheart, the ambitious singer Delilah Green, caught in the middle, the pair battle rival manufacturers, London theatre owners and, ultimately, each other, for their very futures.
This is a story of obsession, the pursuit of love and the enduring magic of music.
George Mahood had a nice, easy, comfortable life. He had a job, a house, a wife and kids. But something was missing. He was stuck in a routine of working, changing nappies and cleaning up cat sick. He felt like he was missing out on a lot of what the world had to offer.
He then discovered that it was Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day. The day after that was National Curmudgeon Day, and the day after that was Inane Answering Machine Message Day. In fact, the calendar is FULL of these quirky, weird and wonderful events. He realised that somebody somewhere had created these holidays, believing that they were important enough to warrant their own official day. Surely he should therefore be more appreciative of their existence? So he decided to try and celebrate them all. As you do. He hoped that at the end of the challenge he would be transformed into a happier, more intelligent and more content person.
Follow George on his hilarious, life changing adventure as he tries to balance his normal life with a wealth of new experiences, people, facts and ridiculous situations. It’s a rip-roaring, life-affirming, roller-coaster of a ride, where every day is a holiday.
As young children, Rudyard and his sister ‘Trix’ flourished in the brilliant warmth and colour of India. Their happiness ended abruptly when they were sent back to England to live with a strict and god-fearing foster family.
Both became writers, although one lived in the shadow of the other’s extraordinary success. The name Rudyard Kipling is known to millions, but what became of his talented younger sister? She was careful to hide her secret life even from those closest to her.
Mary Hamer’s fascinating novel brings both Kipling and Trix vividly to life. In this fictionalised account of their lives, she goes to the heart of the relationship between a difficult brother and his troubled sister. Hamer peels back the historical record to reveal the obsessions which fuelled Kipling and his sister. Was he really better equipped to deal with conflict, heartbreak and loss than his beloved Trix?
A missing girl. A secret decades old. Memories that re-surface, as bright as if they were yesterday. A mind slipping into confusion.
Judy is only in her sixties, but she recognises what is happening to her. She struggles to remember what happened yesterday, but the past, with the secret she has kept all these years, troubles her. She begins to write an account of the events leading up to a mystery that was never solved, but time is against her.
This is the story of what happens when Judy’s daughter Laura finds her account and resolves to solve the mystery that her mother has kept secret all these years. It is told against the backdrop of Judy’s increasing confusion and the new landscape in which she finds herself as the family has to take increasingly difficult decisions.
Laura’s own life is thrown into turmoil and what she finds out could cause shockwaves in the family and beyond. Now she is the keeper of a secret too, but what will she do with it?
Maria Conti has a full and busy life in 60’s Manchester. Having lost her mother at a young age, she has a close and loving relationship with her father, Leo who owns an Italian restaurant, Leonardo’s. Finding first romance with Paul Spencer seems like the icing on the cake.
Secretly, however, she worries over Leo’s drinking and gambling binges. Then he buys a racehorse she know he cannot afford. Maria has no one to advise her as Leo’s family are in Italy and her mother’s family in Ireland rejected her when she married a foreigner.
Having carefully guarded her father from female attention, Maria’s attitude alters when the elegant Diana Freeman comes into their lives. She hopes that Diana’s presence may distance Leo from his addictions.
Then Leo is tragically killed. In the dark days that follow it emerges that he has left them deeply in debt and their home and her beloved Leonard’s are in jeopardy. Maria has no choice but to turn to her estranged Irish Family.
Still reeling from her loss, she fins she has yet another challenge to face, In Ireland, as she uncovers a bitter legacy of secrets and lies, she comes to realise that their mother was not the person she’s been led to believe she was.
When Jake Boulder is asked by his PI friend to help investigate the vicious murder of Kira Niemeyer, he soon finds himself tracking a serial killer who selects his next victim in a most unusual manner.
As the body count rises, Boulder has to work with the police to identify the heinous killer before more lives are taken. What ensues is a twisted game of cat and mouse, that only Boulder or the Watcher can survive. But who will it be?
One night will change their lives forever…
Georgia Bailey is closing up her little charity shop in Oakbarrow when she gets a mysterious late night call from a stranger, threatening to jump off the town’s bridge.
Something about the man’s voice is faintly familiar but all she can do is stay on the line and after talking for hours, losing sense of time passing, coax him back from the edge.
The next morning, Georgia walks to work, buys a festive latte from Leo (who she’s had a crush on for months!) at the local coffee shop, and is shocked when she suddenly recognizes the voice from last night…
Miriam had been freewheeling into a comfortable future, but after a bitter betrayal she’s stuck between the dual spectres of maternal servitude and obligation to her octogenarian parents.
A random encounter at the local arts centre presents her with job opportunity she would never have imagined in a million years. Mere weeks later, on a visit to her childhood home, she hears news that offers a chance to rewrite the past.
Given the luxury of hindsight, making the right decisions about her professional and private lives should be a breeze… But can Miriam’s instincts be trusted? There’s only one way to find out, she must pinch her nose and jump right in.
The police think Crystal Heathers isn’t missing.
The trainee detective assigned to the case isn’t so sure.
McAvoy thinks someone was being held at the derelict building where they just found a body pinned to the wall…and that all the signs point to it being a little girl.
But why would anyone not report a kidnapping?
And how far would someone go to get revenge?
The case will test McAvoy to breaking point – as the crimes of the present lead him to a final violent confrontation with an enemy from his own past.
Three friends. One surprise inheritance. And the perfect plan to deal with troublesome husbands…
Newly divorced Lorna is struggling to adjust to life on her own. When she discovers that her beloved godfather has left her the grand (and crumbling) Ravenscourt House in the heart of Sussex, she soon has a project on her hands.
Nathan sells delicious goodies at Mulberry Farm. When he meets Lorna at a Christmas market, neither of them can ignore the chemistry. But as they get to know one another, Lorna wants to know one thing – is he after her or the house?
Together with Gloria – whose marriage to alcoholic Adrian has hit rock bottom, and Rosalind – struggling to deal with her womanising husband Ivan, the three friends hatch a plan. They’ll ditch their difficult husbands at Ravenscourt House and enjoy stress-free Christmases with their families. But nothing is ever that simple…
Every secret has consequences.
In Bampton, Derbyshire, Lena Fisher is arrested for suffocating her husband, Andrew.
A year after Lena’s release from prison, Andrew is found dead in a disused mortuary.
Who was the man Lena killed twelve years ago, and who committed the second murder? When Lena disappears, her sister, Kat, sets out to follow a trail of clues delivered by a mysterious teenage boy. Kat must uncover the truth – before there’s another death . . .
JÓNAS FEELS LIKE HIS LIFE IS OVER.
His wife has left him, his mother is slipping deeper into dementia, and his daughter is no longer who he thought. So he comes up with a foolproof plan: to buy a one-way ticket to a chaotic, war-ravaged country and put an end to it all.
But on arriving at Hotel Silence, he finds his plans – and his anonymity – begin to dissolve under the foreign sun. Now there are other things that need his attention, like the crumbling hotel itself, the staff who run it, and his unusual fellow guests. And soon it becomes clear that Jónas must decide whether he really wants to leave it all behind; or give life a second chance, albeit down a must unexpected path…
When Sam falls in love with Deptford thug Derek, and Anne’s best friend Kathleen takes her own life, they discover they are linked not just by a world of drugs and revenge; they also share the friendship of the uncanny and enigmatic Deborah.
Seamstress, sailor, story-teller and self-proclaimed centenarian immortal, Deborah slowly reveals to Anne and Sam her improbable, fantastical life, an exquisite history of hidden Deptford and, ultimately, the solution to their crises.
With echoes of Armistead Maupin, Attend is a beautifully written, darkly funny, mesmerisingly emotive and deliciously told debut novel, rich in finely wrought characters that you will never forget.
All I want for Christmas is you!
If you’re a wedding planner it’s best not to have affairs with married men. This is one cardinal rule that Robyn always abides by. But then she meets Jonathan…
After a delicious dalliance in the dance studio, Robyn and Jonathan fall truly, madly, deeply in love. Jonathan justifies his actions because his wife is a workaholic, while Robyn finds the glamour – free from any mundane concerns – thrilling.
But then the pressure mounts up: the guilt; the lies; the strain of it all. With the festive season approaching, can Robyn make this the best holiday ever or will it be the nightmare before Christmas?
A new year brings new challenges … and the chance to make a dream come true.
Melinda expected to spend January relaxing by the fireplace while paging through the seed catalogs’ promises of spring. After all, the slower pace of the country was one of the reasons she’d let go of her bustling life in the city.
Instead, she finds herself struggling to keep the worst of winter’s threats from her door. Shoveling snow, thawing her acreage’s water lines, and anxiously watching over the pregnant sheep in her barn fill Melinda’s shorter days and longer nights. She pushes on because Horace’s offer still stands: He’ll sell her the farm in the spring if she truly wants to stay.
But as winter tightens its grip, Melinda’s biggest trials are still to come. When a series of events threatens to break her heart and shatter her hopes, can she find the strength to see the season through?
1563 Lord Darnley is a prince of the blood.
He is handsome, ambitious – and an unwitting pawn in a game of thrones, played out by the rival queens of England and Scotland.
As he escapes northwards, Darnley falls in love with the enigmatic Mary, Queen of Scots.
But is the beautiful and regal woman all that she seems?
As Darnley is drawn into Mary’s web – and bed – he discovers that being a king does not mean wearing the crown.
As one of the most passionate marriages in British history falters, Darnley must pit his wits against his wife.
There will be blood. The end of their affair will shape their hearts – and history.
Here comes the bride… but how long can she hide?
When Kitty Clayton flees her wedding with no money, no bank card and no phone, her life seems worryingly futureless. All she knows is, she’d rather sleep on the streets than go back home to cheating Ethan.
After picking her up hitch-hiking, widowed children’s author Jack Duffy takes Kitty under his wing, looking out for her until she gets back on her feet. And it’s not long before the two grow close…
But with Jack struggling to recover from the guilt he feels over his wife’s death and Kitty refusing to face up to the problems she’s running away from at home, will the two ever manage to share a happily ever after?
The Bishop of Lindchester is happily married with four daughters. But does he have a secret? Archdeacon Matt is inclined to think not. That said, it’s obvious to him that Bishop Paul’s got a pretty big bee in his mitre about the brilliant but troubled Freddie May . . . Welcome to the fictional Diocese of Lindchester, where you will be taken (dear reader) on a yearlong romp in the company of bishops, priests and lay people. Prepare yourself for a bumpy and hilarious ride from the rarefied heights of the Cathedral Close down to the coalface of ordinary urban and rural parishes. Acts and Omissions reveals the Church of England in all its mess and glory. It is a world shot through with grace, but one where even the best intentioned err and stray. And occasionally do those things which they ought not to have done . . .
I was fourteen when I fell in love with a goddess . . .
A love he’d never forget
Ex-lawyer Noah has never forgotten his first love. When, years later, he hears that she’s suspected of murder, he knows with certainty that she’s innocent. With April on life-support and the evidence pointing towards her guilt, he’s compelled to help her. But he’s also unprepared as he’s forced to confront what happened between them all those years ago.
A secret she would never reveal
April Moon had loved Noah. She never wanted to hurt him. But there was something – and someone – dark in her life which made happiness together impossible.
A family she could never forgive
Ella is a troubled teenager with her own secrets to tell. But no one will listen. What Ella knows holds the key to finding the killer. But as Noah, April and Ella’s stories converge, shocking revelations come to the surface. The truth is obvious. Or so everyone believes . . .
Ella Davenport is turning her world upside down. She’s ditching her cheating ex, swapping Carnaby Street for Corfu and heading back to the bustling family restaurant of her childhood. but returning home won’t be as easy as she thought…
Meanwhile, her sister Maddy has always loved the quiet pace of island life but now she’s longing to escape. So when Ella arrives in Corfu, she jumps at the chance to trade places and soon she’s exploring the snowy streets of London in search of her own adventure.
But thousands of miles apart and struggling to adjust to their new lives, Ella and Maddy are about to find out that all they want for Christmas is each other…
As Christmas approaches, everything seems to be falling into place for Dossie. Her son Clem and his adorable four-year-old son Jakey have moved to Cornwall to be closer to her. She runs her own successful catering business. All she needs now is for the run of bad luck in her romantic life to end…
But while little Jakey helps to put away the decorations after another cosy Christmas surrounded by friends and family, an avaricious property developer starts prowling around. The Cornish home which he has known all his life is in danger of being sold up, and everything is changing.
Will this close-knit unit who so depend on each other still be together next Christmas? And what will they have learnt about having somewhere you truly belong?
Prize Wins and Giveaways
Happily settled in Florida, Sonja believes she’s finally escaped the trap set by unscrupulous drug lords. But when her son Tomas is taken, she’s back to square one … and Iceland.
Her lover, Agla, is awaiting sentencing for financial misconduct after the banking crash, and Sonja refuses to see her. And that’s not all … Agla owes money to some extremely powerful men, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it back.
With her former nemesis, customs officer Bragi, on her side, Sonja puts her own plan into motion, to bring down the drug barons and her scheming ex-husband, and get Tomas back safely. But things aren’t as straightforward as they seem, and Sonja finds herself caught in the centre of a trap that will put all of their lives at risk…
Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Trap is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.
December Book Subscriptions
Frank and Joan’s marriage is in trouble. Having spent thirty years failing to understand each other, Joan’s frustrations have finally reached boiling point. But it’s Christmas, and their three children are coming home for the holiday. So Joan determines to make things work.
With the Christmas tree up, plates of mince pies artfully arranged and the obligatory poinsettia in situ, the stage is set for a traditional family Christmas. If only this family were up to the challenge.
Told with wit, understanding and disarming honesty, this is a novel about the thorniness of family love and its capacity to endure.
Celebrating midwinter is not about what you buy or how much you spend – it’s about your attitude to life. Turn away from the frenetic consumerism of Christmas and rediscover the authentic and meaningful realities of this, the oldest and most precious celebration of the year.
The true significance of midwinter is not found in any individual spiritual or religious belief or practice. Instead, the winter solstice provides an opportunity to celebrate what we as humans share; to set aside our differences and come together with a sense of community and cheer.
Merry Midwinter is a cornucopia of ideas for how to make your own decorations (kissing boughs, advent wreaths, crackers, stockings and more); your own alternative gifts which cost nothing except your time and thought; your own entertainments and games; and simple, seasonal recipes from years gone by.
That’s it for another month folks and I’ll catch up with you again for the January list. Happy Reading!!