I must admit that at first glance I was particularly underwhelmed by this month’s selection. There seemed to be a fair few established titles along with numerous, readable but not really stand out titles and lots of cookery books. However, not to be defeatist I had another look and picked some that took my fancy, concentrating on more recent publications. 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’d happily 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.
What do you do next, after you’ve changed the world?
It is 1928. Matilda Simpkin, rooting through a cupboard, comes across a small wooden club – an old possession of hers, unseen for more than a decade.
Mattie is a woman with a thrilling past and a chafingly uneventful present. During the Women’s Suffrage Campaign she was a militant. Jailed five times, she marched, sang, gave speeches, smashed windows and heckled Winston Churchill, and nothing – nothing – since then has had the same depth, the same excitement.
Now in middle age, she is still looking for a fresh mould into which to pour her energies. Giving the wooden club a thoughtful twirl, she is struck by an idea – but what starts as a brilliantly idealistic plan is derailed by a connection with Mattie’s militant past, one which begins to threaten every principle that she stands for.
When All is Said by Anne Griffin
‘I’m here to remember – all that I have been and all that I will never be again.’
At the bar of a grand hotel in a small Irish town sits 84-year-old Maurice Hannigan. He’s alone, as usual -though tonight is anything but. Pull up a stool and charge your glass, because Maurice is finally ready to tell his story.
Over the course of this evening, he will raise five toasts to the five people who have meant the most to him. Through these stories – of unspoken joy and regret, a secret tragedy kept hidden, a fierce love that never found its voice – the life of one man will be powerfully and poignantly laid bare.
The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins
‘They say I must be put to death for what happened to Madame, and they want me to confess. But how can I confess what I don’t believe I’ve done?’
1826, and all of London is in a frenzy. Crowds gather at the gates of the Old Bailey to watch as Frannie Langton, maid to Mr and Mrs Benham, goes on trial for their murder. The testimonies against her are damning – slave, whore, seductress. And they may be the truth. But they are not the whole truth.
For the first time Frannie must tell her story. It begins with a girl learning to read on a plantation in Jamaica, and it ends in a grand house in London, where a beautiful woman waits to be freed.
But through her fevered confessions, one burning question haunts Frannie Langton: could she have murdered the only person she ever loved?
In an isolated country town ravaged by drought, a charismatic young priest opens fire on his congregation, killing five men before being shot dead himself.
A year later, journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in Riversend to write a feature on the anniversary of the tragedy. But the stories he hears from the locals don’t fit with the accepted version of events.
Just as Martin believes he is making headway, a shocking discovery rocks the town. The bodies of two backpackers – missing since the time of the massacre – are found in the scrublands. The media descends on Riversend and Martin is the one in the spotlight.
Wrestling with his own demons, Martin finds himself risking everything to uncover a truth that becomes more complex with every twist. But there are powerful forces determined to stop him, and he has no idea how far they will go to make sure the town’s secrets stay buried.
A Postcard from Italy by Alex Brown
Grace Quinn loves her job at Cohen’s Convenient Storage Company, finding occasional treasure in the forgotten units that customers have abandoned. Her inquisitive nature is piqued when a valuable art collection and a bundle of letters and diaries are found that date back to the 1930’s.
Delving deeper, Grace uncovers the story of a young English woman, Connie Levine, who follows her heart to Italy at the end of the Second World war. The contents also offer up the hope of a new beginning for Grace, battling a broken heart and caring for her controlling mother.
Embarking on her own voyage of discovery, Grace’s search takes her to a powder pink villa on the cliff tops overlooking the Italian Riviera, but will she unravel the family secrets and betrayals that Connie tried so hard to overcome, and find love for herself?
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?
Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
One Day in December by Josie Silver
Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist. After all, life isn’t a scene from the movies, is it? But then, through a misted-up bus window one freezing day, she sees a man she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.
Laurie thinks she’ll never see the boy from the bus again. But at a party later that year, her best friend Sarah introduces her to the new love of her life. Who is, of course, the boy from the bus.
Determined to let him go, Laurie gets on with her life. But what if fate has other plans?
Christmas day, and DCI Tom Reynolds receives an alarming call. A mass grave has been discovered on Oileán na Caillte, the island which housed the controversial psychiatric institution St. Christina’s. The hospital has been closed for decades and onsite graves were tragically common. Reynolds thinks his adversarial boss is handing him a cold case to sideline him.
But then it transpires another body has been discovered amongst the dead – one of the doctors who went missing from the hospital in mysterious circumstances forty years ago. He appears to have been brutally murdered.
As events take a sudden turn, nothing can prepare Reynolds and his team for what they are about to discover once they arrive on the island . . .
When David Child, a major client of a corrupt New York law firm, is arrested for murder, the FBI ask con artist-turned-lawyer Eddie Flynn to persuade him to testify against the firm.
Eddie is not someone who is easily coerced, but when the FBI reveal that they have incriminating files on his wife, he knows he has no choice.
But Eddie is convinced the man is innocent, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. With the FBI putting pressure on him to secure the deal, Eddie must find a way to prove his client’s innocence.
But the stakes are high – his wife is in danger. And not just from the FBI . . .
The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce
1988. Frank owns a music shop. It is jam-packed with records of every speed, size and genre. Classical, jazz, punk – as long as it’s vinyl he sells it. Day after day Frank finds his customers the music they need.
Then into his life walks Ilse Brauchmann.
Ilse asks Frank to teach her about music. His instinct is to turn and run. And yet he is drawn to this strangely still, mysterious woman with her pea-green coat and her eyes as black as vinyl. But Ilse is not what she seems. And Frank has old wounds that threaten to re-open and a past he will never leave behind …
The Single Ladies of the Jacaranda Retirement Village by Joanna Nell
The life of 79-year-old pensioner Peggy Smart is as beige as the décor in her retirement village. Her week revolves around aqua aerobics and appointments with her doctor. The highlight of Peggy’s day is watching her neighbour Brian head out for his morning swim.
Peggy dreams of inviting the handsome widower – treasurer of the Residents’ Committee and one of the few eligible men in the village – to an intimate dinner. But why would an educated man like Brian, a chartered accountant no less, look twice at Peggy? As a woman of a certain age, she fears she has become invisible, even to men in their eighties.
But a chance encounter with an old school friend she hasn’t seen in five decades – the glamorous fashionista Angie Valentine – sets Peggy on an unexpected journey of self-discovery.
Can she channel her ‘inner Helen Mirren’ and find love and friendship in her twilight years?
The Lemon Tree Cafe by Cathy Bramley
Rich espresso, delicious biscotti and juicy village gossip – will Rosie fall for this new way of life?
When Rosie Featherstone finds herself unexpectedly jobless, the offer to help her beloved Italian grandmother out at the Lemon Tree Cafe – a little slice of Italy nestled in the rolling hills of Derbyshire – feels like the perfect way to keep busy.
But Rosie is haunted by a terrible secret, one that even the appearance of a handsome new face can’t quite help her move on from.
Then disaster looms and the cafe’s fortunes are threatened . . . and Rosie discovers that her nonna has been hiding a dark past of her own. With surprises, betrayal and more than one secret brewing, can she find a way to save the Lemon Tree Cafe and help both herself and Nonna achieve the happy endings they deserve?
Something to Live For by Richard Roper
Sometimes you have to risk everything to find your something…
All Andrew wants is to be normal. He has the perfect wife and 2.4 children waiting at home for him after a long day. At least, that’s what he’s told people.
The truth is, his life isn’t exactly as people think and his little white lie is about to catch up with him.
Because in all Andrew’s efforts to fit in, he’s forgotten one important thing: how to really live. And maybe, it’s about time for him to start.
Your favourite authors have all got Something to Live For…
The Reunion by Guillaume Musso
FRENCH RIVIERA, WINTER 1992
On a freezing night, as her high school campus is engulfed by a snowstorm, 19-year-old Vinca Rockwell runs away with Alexis, her philosophy teacher.
No one will ever see them again.
FRENCH RIVIERA, SPRING 2017
Formerly inseparable, Thomas, Maxime and Fanny – Vinca’s best friends – have not spoken in twenty-five years. But when they receive an invitation to their school reunion, they know they must go back one final time.
Because there is a body buried in that school…
…and they’re the ones who put it there.
YOU CAN RUN
The two boys never fitted in. Seventeen, the worst age, nothing to do but smoke weed; at least they have each other. The day they speed off on a moped with a stolen mobile, they’re ready to celebrate their luck at last. Until their victim comes looking for what’s his – and ready to kill for it.
YOU CAN HIDE
On the other side of Kent’s wealth divide, DS Alexandra Cupidi faces the strangest murder investigation of her career. A severed limb, hidden inside a modern sculpture in Margate’s Turner Contemporary. No one takes it seriously – not even the artwork’s owners, celebrity dealers who act like they’re above the law.
YOU CAN DIE
But as Cupidi’s case becomes ever more sinister, as she wrangles with police politics and personal dilemmas, she can’t help worrying about those runaway boys. Seventeen, the same age as her own headstrong daughter. Alone, on the marshes, they’re pawns in someone else’s game. Two worlds are about to collide.
Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession
Leonard and Hungry are two quiet friends who see the world differently. They use humour, board games and silence to steer their way through the maelstrom that is the 21st Century.It is the story of two friends trying to find their place in the world. It is about those uncelebrated people who have the ability to change the world, not by effort or force, but through their appreciation of all that is special and overlooked in life.
Her Mother’s Secret by Rosanna Ley
For many years Colette has avoided returning to her homeland – the magical island of Belle-Île-en-Mer in Southern Brittany – afraid to confront the painful memories she left behind. She is living on the Cornish coast when she hears about her mother Thea’s failing health and realises that the time has come for her to go home. But can Colette ever forgive Thea for what she has done?
Despite Colette’s wariness, romantic Belle-Île still fascinates her. She takes on the running of her mother’s flower shop and makes friends with Élodie from the Old Lighthouse where Thea once worked as a nanny and with the enigmatic Étienne who shares Colette’s mixed feelings about the island. As Thea opens up to her for the first time, Colette finds herself softening and being drawn back into the landscape of her past. But can Belle-Île also be a part of her future?
The ghosts of that past still linger. What happened all those years ago and how did it cause the rift between mother and daughter? It becomes clear that the beauty of Belle-Île hides a devastating family secret – one that Colette is determined to unravel at any cost.
Two days before Christmas, a young woman is found dead beneath the cliffs of the deserted village of Kálfshamarvík. Did she jump, or did something more sinister take place beneath the lighthouse and the abandoned old house on the remote rocky outcrop?
With winter closing in and the snow falling relentlessly, Ari Thór Arason discovers that the victim’s mother and young sister also lost their lives in this same spot, twenty-five years earlier. As the dark history and its secrets of the village are unveiled, and the death toll begins to rise, the Siglufjordur detectives must race against the clock to find the killer, before another tragedy takes place.
Dark, chilling and complex, Whiteout is a haunting, atmospheric and stunningly plotted thriller from one of Iceland’s bestselling crime writers.
The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman
The artists are gathering together for a photograph. In one of Rome’s historic villas, a party glitters with socialites and patrons. Bear Bavinsky, creator of vast, masculine, meaty canvases, is their god. He is at the centre of the picture. His wife, Natalie, edges out of the shot.
From the side of the room watches little Pinch – their son. At five years old he loves Bear almost as much as he fears him. After Bear abandons their family, Pinch will still worship him, while Natalie faces her own wars with the art world. Trying to live up to his father’s name – one of the twentieth century’s fiercest and most controversial painters – Pinch never quite succeeds. Yet by the end of a career of twists and compromises, he enacts an unexpected rebellion that will leave forever his mark upon the Bear Bavinsky legacy.
Mr Doubler Begins Again by Seni Glaister
Not every journey takes you far from home…
Mr Doubler is an expert in many things. He can bake the fluffiest lemon drizzle cake, distil divine gin, and grow perfect potatoes. But when it comes to company, he’s not so confident. Since he lost his wife, he’s been living on his own on top of a hill, with just one regular visitor: his housekeeper, Mrs Millwood, who visits every day.
Until the day she doesn’t.
With Mrs Millwood missing, Doubler’s routine is thrown into chaos – and he begins to worry that he might have lost his way. But could the kindness of strangers bring him down from the hill?
Great selection Jill I have a few of these on my Goodreads tbr.
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I had a few on my watch list so pleased to see those crop up x
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Oooooh, it’s hard to resist Jo Spain’s… Especially as Amazon France doesn’t often match the deals in the UK. But this time it does… Ooooh, that’s evil, Jill 😀
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Jo Spain is proving very popular. I clearly should have read her sooner. Glad you could get this one on offer.
That’s an impressive list, Jill, and looks like some very sweet books there!
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Thanks Virginia 🙂
Ive heard good things about Old Baggage and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo though I’m trying not to buy anything new this month (maybe this time I’ll succeed)
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I’ve had my eye on Old Baggage for a while so pleased to see it in the sale. I’m keeping my powder dry re the sale so far, but those two will be bought this month.
Love this post! My bank balance doesn’t. I’ve got some of these books thankfully already lol xx
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Thanks Zoe – don’t get too tempted x
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Thanks Nicki x