I usually post these individually over on my Facebook page but there seemed lots of goodies this month so I decided to bring them all together in one post so they’re easier to find. Apologies for adding more temptation. Usual rules apply – all books I include are one’s I’ve either read and recommend, or are books that are patiently waiting to be read, or they’re ones I’m happy to add to my reading list. Therefore it’s a list that’s skewed towards what I like so feel free to look at the complete list on Amazon here.
So grab your cuppa and fasten your seat belts here we go!
General Fiction (for want of a better description – and resorting to standard library categorisation)
London, 1941. Amid the falling bombs Emmeline Lake dreams of becoming a fearless Lady War Correspondent. Unfortunately, Emmy instead finds herself employed as a typist for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt at Woman’s Friend magazine. Mrs Bird refuses to read, let alone answer, letters containing any form of Unpleasantness, and definitely not those from the lovelorn, grief-stricken or morally conflicted.
But the thought of these desperate women waiting for an answer at this most desperate of times becomes impossible for Emmy to ignore. She decides she simply must help and secretly starts to write back – after all, what harm could that possibly do?
When Harold Fry nips out one morning to post a letter, leaving his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other. He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof or mobile phone. All he knows is that he must keep walking. To save someone else’s life.
‘There’s a trick to time. You can make it expand or you can make it contract. Make it shorter or make it longer . . .’
Some moments you want to last forever. Some moments shape a life.
For Mona, it’s the joy of playing on a Wexford beach as a young girl, next to her family’s cottage overlooking the Irish sea. The thrill of moving to Birmingham with a new job and a room of her own in a busy boarding-house. Meeting the love of her life; a whirlwind marriage; a sudden, tragic loss.
But now, decades later, Mona is determined to find happiness before it’s too late. She knows that every moment is precious. But can we ever let go of the past that shaped us?
Ponden Hall is a centuries-old house on the Yorkshire moors, a magical place full of stories. It’s also where Trudy Heaton grew up. And where she ran away from…
Now, after the devastating loss of her husband, she is returning home with her young son, Will, who refuses to believe his father is dead.
While Trudy tries to do her best for her son, she must also attempt to build bridges with her eccentric mother. And then there is the Hall itself: fallen into disrepair but generations of lives and loves still echo in its shadows, sometimes even reaching out to the present…
Jane Peters is an adrift twenty-something by day, and a world-weary agony aunt by night. But when an office party goes too far, Jane dissolves into the high-stakes world of being the Other Woman: a role she has the right advice for, but not the smarts to follow through on.
What starts out as a drunken mistake quickly unravels as Jane discovers that sex and power go hand-in-hand, and that it’s hard to keep your head when you’ve become someone else’s dirty little secret. And soon, her friendships, her sanity and even her life are put into jeopardy…
Sixty-two-year-old Arianna arrives in the South of France for a two-week artists’ workshop full of anticipation but burdened by guilt. Back home in Toronto, she has been living with the devastating diagnosis of her husband’s dementia and the heartbreak of watching the man she has loved for decades slip away before her eyes. What does her future hold without Ben? Before her is a blank canvas.
Encouraged by her family to take some time for herself, she has traveled to Arles to set up her easel in the same fields of poppies and sunflowers that inspired Van Gogh. Gradually, she rediscovers the inner artist she abandoned long ago. Drawing strength from the warm companionship and gentle wisdom of her fellow artists at the retreat—as well as the vitality of guest lecturer Jacques de Villeneuve, an artist and a cowboy—Arianna searches her heart for permission to embrace the life in front of her and, like the sunflowers, once again face the light.
The trip of a lifetime!
Rosie Lewis has her life together.
A swanky job as a Michelin-Starred Sous Chef, a loving husband and future children scheduled for exactly January 2021.
That’s until she comes home one day to find her husband’s pre-packed bag and a confession that he’s had an affair.
Heartbroken and devastated, Rosie drowns her sorrows in a glass (or three) of wine, only to discover the following morning that she has spontaneously invested in a bright pink campervan to facilitate her grand plans to travel the country.
Now, Rosie is about to embark on the trip of a lifetime, and the chance to change her life! With Poppy, her new-found travelling tea shop in tow, nothing could go wrong, could it…?
Life is about to change forever…
Heather is finally back on Hope Street after running from the memories for so long. She hasn’t bumped into many neighbours yet but with her upcoming wedding to plan there’s plenty to keep her busy!
Fran is still trying to get used to a life without her husband by her side. It’s hard enough raising two children on her own – she doesn’t have time to even think about dating…
Pamela is fed up with being taken for granted by her grown-up children and grumbling husband. She’s ready to shake things up a little, but will her family even notice?
So when the three women hear about a ‘happiness course’ starting on Hope Street, surely it’s the perfect opportunity to let their hair down, laugh with new friends and maybe even change their lives in ways they never expected…
A journey of a thousand miles. With an alligator on the back seat. And John Steinbeck as a passenger.
This is a tale where everything is true,except the bits that are made up.
In 1930s America, the Great Depression made everyone’s horizons smaller, and Elsie Lavender found herself back where she began, in the coalfields of West Virginia.
She had just one memento of her halcyon days – a baby alligator named Albert.
Then one day, her husband’s stoical patience snapped and Elsie had to choose between Homer and Albert.
She decided that there was only one thing to do: they would carry Albert home to Florida.
And so began their odyssey – a journey like no other, where Elsie, Homer and Albert encountered everything from movie stars and revolutionaries to Ernest Hemingway and hurricanes in their struggle to find love, redemption,
and a place to call home.
Crime and Mystery
A dark story has been brought to terrifying life. Can the ending be rewritten in time?
This is what the police know: English teacher Clare Cassidy’s friend Ella has just been murdered. Clare and Ella had recently fallen out. Found beside the body was a line from The Stranger, a story by the Gothic writer Clare teaches, and the murder scene is identical to one of the deaths in the story.
This is what Clare knows: No one else was aware of her fight with Ella. Few others have even read The Stranger. Someone has wormed their way into her life and her work. They know her darkest secrets. And they don’t mean well.
This is what the killer knows: Who will be next to die.
She was fifteen, her mother’s golden girl.
She had her whole life ahead of her.
And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone.
Ten years on, Laurel has never given up hope of finding Ellie. And then she meets a charming and charismatic stranger who sweeps her off her feet.
But what really takes her breath away is when she meets his nine-year-old daughter.
Because his daughter is the image of Ellie.
Now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back.
What really happened to Ellie? And who still has secrets to hide?
Brighton, 1951. Pantomime season takes a dark turn when two missing children are found dead under the snow, surrounded by sweets – a macabre, real-life Hansel and Gretel.
DI Edgar Stephens has plenty of leads to investigate. The missing girl, Annie, used to write plays and perform them with her friends. Does the clue lie in Annie’s unfinished – and rather disturbing – last script? Or might it lie with the eccentric actor types who have assembled for the pantomime?
Once again Edgar enlists magician and ex-wartime comrade Max Mephisto’s help in penetrating the shadowy theatrical world that seems to hold the key. But is this all just classic misdirection?
Simon Serrailler faces his most dangerous challenge yet in the edge-of-your-seat thriller from Susan Hill, the bestselling author of The Woman in Black.
Going undercover, he must leave town immediately, change his identity and sever all contact with friends and family.
And, more importantly, he must inhabit the mind of the worst kind of criminal.
But can he do so without losing everything?
Forty years ago, in the dark of the playground, two children’s lives were changed for ever.
Stella Darnell is a cleaner. But when she isn’t tackling dust and dirt and restoring order to chaos, Stella solves murders. Her latest case concerns a man convicted of killing his mistress. His daughter thinks he’s innocent, and needs Stella to prove it.
As Stella sifts through piles of evidence and interview suspects, she discovers a link between the recent murder and a famous case from forty years ago: the shocking death of six-year-old Sarah Ferris, killed in the shadows of an empty playground.
Stella knows that dredging up the past can be dangerous. But as she pieces together the tragedy of what happened to Sarah, she is drawn into a story of jealousy, betrayal and the end of innocence. A story that has not yet reached its end…
No one gets out alive …
The Scottish Hebrides
A strange group of people have descended on the small island of West Uist. Camped out in the grounds of the Castle, they are preparing to celebrate the summer solstice.
Museum curator Finley McNab becomes suspicious of the cult-like group, and when he challenges them it seems his investigations could be deadly …
Inspector Torquil McKinnon is called in to keep an eye on the group.
Are they innocent pagan worshippers? Or is something more sinister going on behind the scenes?
As the day of the solstice draws ever nearer, whispers of murder are on the horizon …
Tonight, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed … Again
It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.
But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.
The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…
India, 1919. Desperate for a fresh start, Captain Sam Wyndham arrives to take up an important post in Calcutta’s police force.
He is soon called to the scene of a horrifying murder. The victim was a senior official, and a note in his mouth warns the British to leave India – or else.
With the stability of the Empire under threat, Wyndham and Sergeant ‘Surrender-not’ Banerjee must solve the case quickly. But there are some who will do anything to stop them…
In occupied Paris, one woman risks everything to help bring down the Nazis.
Paris, 1940. The Nazis have occupied the city—and the Ritz. The opulent old hotel, so loved by Parisians, is now full of swaggering officers, their minions and their mistresses.
For American Olivia Olsen, working as a chambermaid at the hotel means denying her nationality and living a lie, every day bringing the danger of discovery closer. When Hitler’s right-hand man moves in and makes her his pet, she sees an opportunity to help the Resistance—and draw closer to Jack, her contact, whose brusque instructions may be a shield for something more…
Within the hotel, famed designer Coco Chanel quickly learns that the new regime could work to her benefit, while Arletty, one of France’s best-loved actresses, shocks those around her—and herself—with a forbidden love.
But as the war reaches its terrible end, all three women learn the true price of their proximity to the enemy. For in the shadow of war, is anyone truly safe?
1952. Twelve years have passed since Churchill lost to the appeasers and Britain surrendered to Nazi Germany after Dunkirk. As the long German war against Russia rages on in the east, the British people find themselves under dark authoritarian rule: the press, radio and television are controlled; the streets patrolled by violent auxiliary police and British Jews face ever greater constraints. There are terrible rumours too about what is happening in the basement of the German Embassy at Senate House.
Defiance, though, is growing. In Britain, Winston Churchill’s Resistance organization is increasingly a thorn in the government’s side. And in a Birmingham mental hospital an incarcerated scientist, Frank Muncaster, may hold a secret that could change the balance of the world struggle for ever.
Civil Servant David Fitzgerald, secretly acting as a spy for the Resistance, is given the mission to rescue his old friend Frank and get him out of the country. Before long he, together with a disparate group of Resistance activists, will find themselves fugitives in the midst of London’s Great Smog; as David’s wife Sarah finds herself drawn into a world more terrifying than she ever could have imagined. And hard on their heels is Gestapo Sturmbannfuhrer Gunther Hoth, brilliant, implacable hunter of men . . .
Sometimes a family’s deepest silences hide the most important secrets.
Carmela disappeared from her Italian hometown long ago and is mentioned only in fragments and whispers. Mina has resisted prying, respectful of her family’s Sardinian reserve. But now, with her mother battling cancer, it’s time to learn the truth.
In 1952, Simius is a busy Sardinian town surrounded by fertile farms and orchards. Carmela Chirigoni, a farmer’s daughter and talented seamstress, is engaged to Franco, son of the area’s wealthiest family. Everyone agrees it’s a good match. But Carmela’s growing doubts about Franco’s possessiveness are magnified when she meets Captain Joe Kavanagh.
Joe, an American officer stationed at a local army base, is charismatic, intelligent, and married. Hired as his interpreter, Carmela resolves to ignore her feelings, knowing that any future together must bring upheaval and heartache to both families.
As Mina follows the threads of Carmela’s life to uncover her fate, she will discover a past still deeply alive in the present, revealing a story of hope, sacrifice, and extraordinary love.
At the close of World War II, London is in ruins and Rose Daniel isn’t at peace. Eight years ago, her brother disappeared while fighting alongside Gypsy partisans in Spain. From his letters, Rose has just two clues to his whereabouts—his descriptions of the spectacular south slopes of the Sierra Nevada and his love for a woman who was carrying his child.
In Spain, it has been eight years since Lola Aragon’s family was massacred. Eight years since she rescued a newborn girl from the arms of her dying mother and ran for her life. She has always believed that nothing could make her return…until a plea for help comes from a desperate stranger.
Now, Rose, Lola, and the child set out on a journey from the wild marshes of the Camargue to the dazzling peaks of Spain’s ancient mountain communities. As they come face-to-face with war’s darkest truths, their lives will be changed forever by memories, secrets, and friendships.
England, 1947: A young woman finds herself under close observation in an insane asylum, charged with a violent crime she has no memory of committing. As she tries to make sense of her recent past, she recalls very little.
But she still remembers wartime in Yugoslavia. There she and her lover risked everything to carry out dangerous work resisting the Germans—a heroic campaign in which many brave comrades were lost. After that, the trail disappears into confusion. How did she come to be trapped in a living nightmare?
As she struggles to piece together the missing years of her life, she will have to confront the harrowing experiences of her special-operations work and peacetime marriage. Only then can she hope to regain the vital memories that will uncover the truth: is she really a violent criminal…or was she betrayed?
Paul O’Grady’s Country Life for the first time gives a glimpse into the home life of one of Britain’s best loved stars, alongside the animals he adores.
Sometimes rural idyll, sometimes hell on earth, Paul’s life in rural Kent has been shared over the years with some very vocal pigs, a mad cow, various rescued barn owls, the world’s most sadistic geese and Christine the psychotic sheep – among many other animal waifs and strays. And of course Paul tells the stories of the dogs in his life – including the tiny chihuahua/Jack Russell cross with Napoleonic ambitions, Eddie, Miss Olga, Bullseye, Louis, Boycie and, of course, Buster, the greatest canine star since Lassie. In addition, Paul shares some of his favourite recipes, explores country lore and superstitions, and extols the benefits of growing your own vegetables, herbs and fruit.
This is a warts-and-all account of country living, as far removed from the bright lights of celebrity as you could ever imagine. The trials and tribulations Paul experienced on moving to deepest darkest Kent as a dyed-in-the-wool city dweller are every bit as hilarious and eventful as you would think. He had a lot of new skills to learn, and fast: everything from how to churn your own butter and how to birth a lamb to the best way to lure a cow out of your kitchen while naked from the waist down.
When Alice Morrison headed out to Morocco, it was to take on one of the most daunting challenges: to run in the famous Marathon des Sables. Little did she expect to end up living there. But as soon as she settled in a flat in Marrakech, she was won over by the people, the spectacular scenery and the ancient alleyways of the souk. Soon she was hiking over the Atlas mountains, joining nomads to sample their timeless way of life as they crossed the Sahara desert, and finding peace in a tranquil oasis.
Despite more than 10 million tourists coming to Morocco each year, there is remarkably little that has been written about its people, their customs and the extraordinary range of places to visit, from bustling markets to vast, empty deserts. Alice makes sure she samples it all, and as she does she provides a stunning portrait of a beautiful country. As a lone woman, she often attracts plenty of curiosity, but her willingness to participate – whether thigh deep in pigeon droppings in a tannery or helping out herding goats – ensures that she is welcomed everywhere by a people who are among the most hospitable on the planet.
Susie and Terry dream of living in France. The dream comes true, but not in the way they had imagined.
Yes, the countryside is spacious and peaceful. On summer nights the stars skim the rooftops, the owls hoot and the nightingales sing. Sunflowers smile from their fields.
The wine is cheap and the baguettes are crusty. The French neighbours are generous and gentle.
But then come the drug addicts, builders who cannot build, demanding compatriots, undercover cops and unwelcome guests. Susie begins to lose hope of attracting the fabled French philanderer and, far from appreciating their new home, the animals do everything they can to make life as difficult as possible.
With her house literally crumbling around her, the number of odd characters Susie manages to attract are only matched by the assortment of creatures appearing from in and out of the woodwork. Terry almost dies, and Susie’s resilience and good humour are tested to the limit.
The January Man is the story of a year of walks that was inspired by a song, Dave Goulder’s ‘The January Man’. Month by month, season by season and region by region, Christopher Somerville walks the British Isles, following routes that continually bring his father to mind. As he travels the country – from the winter floodlands of the River Severn to the lambing pastures of Nidderdale, the towering seabird cliffs on the Shetland Isle of Foula in June and the ancient oaks of Sherwood Forest in autumn – he describes the history, wildlife, landscapes and people he encounters, down back lanes and old paths, in rain and fair weather.
This exquisitely written account of the British countryside not only inspires us to don our boots and explore the 140,000 miles of footpaths across the British Isles, but also illustrates how, on long-distance walks, we can come to an understanding of ourselves and our fellow walkers. Over the hills and along the byways, Christopher Somerville examines what moulded the men of his father’s generation – so reticent about their wartime experiences, so self-effacing, upright and dutiful – as he searches for ‘the man inside the man’ that his own father really was.
Okay that’s your lot, hope you found something to suit and remember these offers last until the end of the month if you want to spread the spending – Happy reading!!