Here’s this month’s list of books that took my fancy. Usual rules apply – all books I include are those I’ve either read and recommend, 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 currently appeals to me so feel free to look at the complete list on Amazon here.
With her life on the rocks, it is going to take a whale sized miracle to keep her afloat.
Event planner Fiona Reeves did not have her husband’s sudden departure on her schedule. However, she’s certain that it’s only a hiccup and he’ll be back in no time, begging for forgiveness. Fortunately there’s a distraction of mammoth proportions swimming in the River Thames.
Absorbed by the story of Martha the sperm whale, Fiona attempts to carry on life as usual as she awaits her husband’s return. However, nothing can prepare her for the dramatic turn of events that throw her life into ever greater turmoil. The road ahead has many paths and for Fiona it’s time to sink or swim.
The discovery of a lost Caravaggio painting yields centuries of deadly secrets in this pulse-pounding novel of historical intrigue and modern-day suspense…
In seventeenth-century Rome, an arrogant and reckless artist named Caravaggio drinks and brawls his way through his violent, insatiable life, all while painting some of the world’s greatest religious works of art. But it is his bitter feud with Giovanni Roero, a brutal knight in the Maltese Order of St. John, that is his fatal error.
Now, in the village of Monte Piccolo, a priest claims to have discovered a lost painting by the famed artist in the storage room of an orphanage. Retired professor A. R. Richman believes it’s a delusional dream. But Lucia, a visiting art student, convinces him otherwise and recruits her best friend, Moto, to join in the quest. They think The Judas Kiss is worth investigating. But tracing its provenance back four hundred years could prove to be just as treacherous as the master’s final days.
Richman, Lucia, and Moto begin chasing the mystery, uncovering a blood feud hidden for years that has now spilled into the twenty-first century. As they follow where it leads—down a trail of murder, betrayal, and vengeance—they find a secret history that someone will kill to keep buried.
Ceylon, 1803. In the royal city of Kandy, a daughter is born to the king’s elephant keeper—an esteemed position in the court reserved only for males. To ensure the line of succession, Phera’s parents raise her as a boy.
As she bonds with her elephant companion, Siddhi, Phera grows into a confident, fiercely independent woman torn between the expectations of her family and her desire to live life on her own terms. Only when British colonists invade is she allowed to live her true identity, but when the conquerors commit unspeakable violence against her people, Phera must add survival to the list of freedoms for which she’s willing to fight.
Possessed by thoughts of revenge yet drawn into an unexpected romance with a kindly British physician, the elephant keeper’s daughter faces a choice: Love or hatred? Forgiveness or retribution?
Four very different people are named in a will. All are summoned to the Villa Dante, home of the late Beatrice Malaspina. But who was she?
While they wait to find out, the villa begins to work its seductive magic. With its faded frescoes and magnificent mediaeval tower, it’s unlike anywhere they have been before. Slowly, four characters who have gone to great lengths to hide their troubles find that change – and even hope – is possible after all. But the mysterious Beatrice has a devastating secret to reveal that will change everything . . .
Melissa Dance was eight years old when her mother died. They never got to say goodbye.
Seventeen years later, Melissa is handed a journal. As she smooths open the pages and begins to read her mother’s words, she is instantly transported back to her childhood.
But returning to her past is painful and memories of her mother’s beautiful face are a cruel reminder to Melissa that she’ll never see her again.
As Melissa slowly makes her way through the precious book, reading the snippets of advice and cooking the dishes from the recipes she is also shocked to learn of her mother’s secrets – secrets that if shared, could change Melissa’s world forever.
In response to unprecedented media interest, we confirm that the murder victim was a member of our group. We will not be commenting further.
When April joins a support group for young widows, she’s looking for answers after her husband’s sudden death. What she finds instead is a group in turmoil.
Set up by well-meaning amateurs, the founders are tussling for control of the group, and everyone’s on edge. Added to that, secret relationships springing up between members and another new member, Nick, seems more than a little bit shady…
But the most dangerous secret of all? Not all members are who they seem to be. And they’ll go to any lengths to hide the truth…
Orange Blossom & Honey is a culinary journey across Morocco, from the souks of Marrakesh, through the Sahara, and onto the blustery shores of the Atlantic coast. In researching this book, John travelled into the heart of the High Atlas Mountains to learn the secrets of traditional lamb barbecue, then journeyed north, through the city of Fes, where the rich dishes of the Imperial Courts are still prepared in many homes. From here he continued on to the Rif Mountains, where rustic recipes are made with the freshest seasonal produce. From Moroccan-style paella, cooked in the painted town of Chefchaouen, to stuffed Berber breads baked in the hot desert sands, John has discovered the real food of the country, learning from the locals to reveal little-known dishes, which he then gives his modern twist. The chapters include Streetfood, Salads & Vegetables, Meat & Poultry, Seafood, Tagines and Desserts, plus there is a section of spice mixes and marinades from chermoula to harissa. With mouthwatering recipes, breath-taking location photography and John’s infectious enthusiasm, this is an essential addition to every cook’s collection.
When a successful New York lawyer suddenly disappears without a trace, neither his wife nor his daughter Julia has any idea where he might be – until they find a love letter he wrote many years ago to a Burmese woman. Intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her father’s past, Julia decides to travel to the village where the woman lived. There she uncovers a tale of unimaginable hardship, resilience and passion that will change her life for ever. A poignant and heart-warming love story, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats will reaffirm your belief in the resilience of the human heart.
Meet Mavis Upton. As mummy to 7-year old Ella, surrogate to far too many pets and with a failed marriage under her belt, Mavis knows she needs to make some life-changing decisions. It’s time to strike out into the world, to stand on her own two feet … to pursue a lifelong ambition to become a Police Officer. I mean, what could go wrong?
Supported by her quirky, malapropism-suffering mum, Mavis throws herself headlong into a world of uncertainty, self-discovery, fearless escapades, laughter and extra-large knickers. And using her newly discovered investigative skills, she reluctantly embarks on a search to find her errant dad who was last seen years before, making off with her mum’s much needed coupon for a fabulous foam cup bra all the way from America.
Follow Mavis as she tackles everything life can throw at her, and revel in Gina Kirkham’s humorous, poignant and moving story of an everyday girl who one day followed a dream.
D.C.I. Jim Daley is sent from the city to investigate a murder after the body of a woman is washed up on an idyllic beach on the West Coast of Scotland. Far away from urban resources, he finds himself a stranger in a close-knit community.
Love, betrayal, fear and death stalk the small town, as Daley investigates a case that becomes more deadly than he could possibly imagine, in this compelling novel infused with intrigue and dark humour.
*Other titles by this author are also in the sale*
The simple fact of the matter is that Iris loves life. Maybe she’s forgotten that. Sometimes that happens, doesn’t it? To the best of us? All I have to do is remind her of that one simple fact.
Tuesday morning starts like any other – until Terry discovers her best friend Iris has gone missing. Finding her takes Terry, Iris and Terry’s confused father Eugene, into an extraordinary journey – one that will change all of their lives. And, along the way, what should be the worst six days of Terry’s life turn into the best.
Because friendship teaches us all to be brave. And, sometimes, the rules are made to be broken.
In this vital re-examination of a shared history, historian and broadcaster David Olusoga tells the rich and revealing story of the long relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa and the Caribbean.
Drawing on new genealogical research, original records, and expert testimony, Black and British reaches back to Roman Britain, the medieval imagination, Elizabethan ‘blackamoors’ and the global slave-trading empire. It shows that the great industrial boom of the nineteenth century was built on American slavery, and that black Britons fought at Trafalgar and in the trenches of both World Wars. Black British history is woven into the cultural and economic histories of the nation. It is not a singular history, but one that belongs to us all.
Unflinching, confronting taboos and revealing hitherto unknown scandals, Olusoga describes how the lives of black and white Britons have been entwined for centuries.
After the death of her beloved mother, Nell travels from rural Cornwall to the colour and chaos of Marrakech. Her marriage may be on the rocks, but exploring the heady delights of Moroccan cuisine could help her fulfil her dream of opening her own restaurant.
It’s there she meets Amy – a young photographer trying to unravel the story behind her family’s involvement in the Vietnam War. The two women develop a close friendship and discover a surprising connection between their own pasts.
This connection will take Nell and Amy on a journey to find their own ‘saffron trail’ – from the labyrinthine medina and bustle of Moroccan bazaars all the way back home to Cornwall and to the heart of their families’ origins.
An eleven-year-old girl stops eating, but remains miraculously alive and well. A nurse, sent to investigate whether she is a fraud, meets a journalist hungry for a story . . .
Set in the Irish Midlands in the 1850s, Emma Donoghue’s The Wonder – inspired by numerous European and North American cases of ‘fasting girls’ between the sixteenth century and the twentieth – is a psychological thriller about a child’s murder threatening to happen in slow motion before our eyes. Pitting all the seductions of fundamentalism against sense and love, it is a searing examination of what nourishes us, body and soul.
Some people live life in the fast lane. Others have stalled and are waiting for assistance on the side of the road, sustained only by the piece of chewing gum they’ve just found in the glove compartment.
Spencer’s ex-lover has died, leaving him a lizard and a list of things to do before the end of the year.
Spencer’s friend Fran shares a house and a mortgage with her brother and his girlfriend, a woman with delicate wrists and a bloated cat.
Fran’s neighbour Iris is slave to the three men in her life: an aging father who likes the phone and two teenage sons who cannot fathom the washing machine.
Maybe it’s not about living life in the fast lane. It’s about learning to live at all.
Julia Garnet is a teacher. Just retired, she is left a legacy which she uses by leaving her orderly life and going to live – in winter – in an apartment in Venice. Its beauty, its secret corners and treasures, and its people overwhelm a lifetime of reserve and caution. Above all, she’s touched by the all-prevalent spirit of the Angel, Raphael.
The ancient tale of Tobias, who travels to Media unaware he is accompanied by the Archangel Raphael, unfolds alongside Julia Garnet’s contemporary journey.
The two stories interweave with parents and landladies, restorers and priests, American tourists and ancient travellers abounding.
The result is an enormously satisfying journey of the spirit – and Julia Garnet is a character to treasure.
Home Place, Sussex, 1939. The English family at war . . .
The sunlit days of childish games and family meals are over, as the shadows of war roll in to cloud the lives of one English family.
At Home Place, the windows are blacked out and food is becoming scarce as a new generation of Cazalets takes up the story. Louise dreams of being a great actress, Clary is an aspiring writer, while Polly, is burdened with knowledge and the need to share it.
From the day that old Nana Reja found a baby abandoned under a bridge, the life of a small Mexican town forever changed. Disfigured and covered in a blanket of bees, little Simonopio is for some locals the stuff of superstition, a child kissed by the devil. But he is welcomed by landowners Francisco and Beatriz Morales, who adopt him and care for him as if he were their own. As he grows up, Simonopio becomes a cause for wonder to the Morales family, because when the uncannily gifted child closes his eyes, he can see what no one else can—visions of all that’s yet to come, both beautiful and dangerous. Followed by his protective swarm of bees and living to deliver his adoptive family from threats—both human and those of nature—Simonopio’s purpose in Linares will, in time, be divined.
Set against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution and the devastating influenza of 1918, The Murmur of Bees captures both the fate of a country in flux and the destiny of one family that has put their love, faith, and future in the unbelievable.
There is a secret hidden within a body, burning within the flames, that will change history forever.
2014: In the French city of Orléans, a man’s charred corpse is found in a burned-out hotel, stripped of all ID. Police captain Inès Picaut must hunt down his killer before others fall prey to the fire. She has only one clue: the name of a woman who has been dead for over five hundred years.
1429: Joan of Arc is taking the war to the English. They want her dead but the only way to reach her is through a fiercely loyal inner circle – until undercover spy Tomas Rustbeard finally earns her trust…
The myths of the past hold the key to the mystery of the present, but how many must die before the truth is laid bare?
Tess and Simon Sparrow may have a few more grey hairs than they used to, but that doesn’t stop them being swept up in a whirlwind romance and starting over. Swapping their city lives for an escape to the Cornish countryside, they fall in love with a crumbling hotel and impulsively buy it to renovate as their forever home. But soon the newlyweds have had their first fight (and their second and third…) and building costs are spiralling out of control. Their families think they’re mad and Tess is starting to agree – she just wants to escape back to civilisation.
Doing up the glorious, wisteria-clad property was meant to be a delightful retirement project. But the electrics are faulty, there’s no central heating, and the kitchen ceiling’s fallen in: the dream has become reality and things only get more chaotic when the first guests arrive…
Mysterious Celia, hapless romantic Dominic and tarnished, lovelorn actress Titania are all looking for a fresh start. Everyone in this eclectic group has their own reasons for being in Cornwall, but the summer is full of secrets and surprises. As plans go awry and truths are revealed, Tess and Simon realise that they’ve taken on a bigger challenge than they intended to: can their happily-ever-after survive the chaos or will this end up being the biggest mistake of their lives?
Belle Hatton has embarked upon an exciting new life far from home: a glamorous job as a nightclub singer in 1930s Burma, with a host of sophisticated new friends and admirers. But Belle is haunted by a mystery from the past – a 25 year old newspaper clipping found in her parents’ belongings after their death, saying that the Hattons were leaving Rangoon after the disappearance of their baby daughter, Elvira.
Belle is desperate to find out what happened to the sister she never knew she had – but when she starts asking questions, she is confronted with unsettling rumours, malicious gossip, and outright threats. Oliver, an attractive, easy-going American journalist, promises to help her, but an anonymous note tells her not to trust those closest to her. . .
Belle survives riots, intruders, and bomb attacks – but nothing will stop her in her mission to uncover the truth. Can she trust her growing feelings for Oliver? Is her sister really dead? And could there be a chance Belle might find her?
SHE ALWAYS WENT TOO FAR
DS Alexandra Cupidi has done it again. She should have learnt to keep her big mouth shut, after the scandal that sent her packing – resentful teenager in tow – from the London Met to the lonely Kent coastline. Murder is different here, among the fens and stark beaches.
SHE WAS THE ONE WHO FOUND THE KILLERS
The man drowned in the slurry pit had been herded there like an animal. He was North African, like many of the fruit pickers that work the fields. The more Cupidi discovers, the more she wants to ask – but these people are suspicious of questions.
AND NOW IT WAS KILLING HER
It will take an understanding of this strange place – its old ways and new crimes – to uncover the dark conspiracy behind the murder. Cupidi is not afraid to travel that road. But she should be. She should, by now, have learnt.
Salt Lane is the first in the new DS Alexandra Cupidi series. With his trademark characterisation and flair for social commentary, William Shaw has crafted a crime novel for our time that grips you, mind and heart.
In this groundbreaking biography, Jung Chang vividly describes how Empress Dowager Cixi – the most important woman in Chinese history – brought a medieval empire into the modern age. Under her, the ancient country attained virtually all the attributes of a modern state and it was she who abolished gruesome punishments like ‘death by a thousand cuts’ and put an end to foot-binding. Jung Chang comprehensively overturns the conventional view of Cixi as a diehard conservative and cruel despot and also takes the reader into the depths of her splendid Summer Palace and the harem of Beijing’s Forbidden City, where she lived surrounded by eunuchs – with one of whom she fell in love, with tragic consequences.
Strangefields Farm is notorious for its sinister history ever since artist Jackson Temples lured young women there to model for disturbing works of art. Some of those girls never left the house alive.
Now, decades later, Strangefields is to be transformed into a holiday village, but the developer’s hopes of its dark history being forgotten are dashed when a skull is found on the site. And when a local florist is found murdered in an echo of Temples’ crimes, DI Wesley Peterson fears that a copy-cat killer is at large. Especially when another brutal murder in a nearby village appears to be linked.
As Wesley’s friend, archaeologist Dr Neil Watson, uncovers the secrets of Strangefields’ grisly past, it seems that an ancient tale of the dead returning to torment the living might not be as fantastical as it seems. And Wesley must work fast to discover who’s behind the recent murders . . . before someone close to him is put in danger.
Number 35 The Hill is an ordinary house in an ordinary street. But it is about to become infamous. When two police constables are sent to the house following a report of a domestic disturbance, they stumble upon a truly horrific scene. A scene which leaves one of them dead and the other fighting for her life and career. The identity of a serial killer, the Chameleon, has finally been revealed. But his capture is only the beginning of a shocking investigation that will test Inspector Alan Banks to the absolute limit.
You’ve heard the old proverb about ambition, that it’s like setting a ladder to the sky. It can lead to a long and painful fall.
If you look hard enough, you will find stories pretty much anywhere. They don’t even have to be your own. Or so would-be-novelist Maurice Swift decides early on in his career.
A chance encounter in a Berlin hotel with celebrated author Erich Ackerman gives Maurice an opportunity. For Erich is lonely, and he has a story to tell; whether or not he should is another matter.
Once Maurice has made his name, he finds himself in need of a fresh idea. He doesn’t care where he finds it, as long as it helps him rise to the top. Stories will make him famous, but they will also make him beg, borrow and steal. They may even make him do worse.
This is a novel about ambition.
A strange encounter. An unlikely friendship. But will it survive when they both know the truth?
As single mother Leah struggles to get her children ready one morning, the doorbell rings. Standing on the doorstep of their terraced house in Whitley Bay is a well-dressed stranger, Clio, who feels an emotional tie to the house that she can’t explain. The story should end there, but a long-buried secret is already on its way to the surface…
In some ways the two women couldn’t be more different: Leah’s a mother of two and the daughter of a barmaid; Clio’s a perennially single heiress to her baroness mother’s estate. But where Leah lacks grown-up company, Clio lacks any experience of the real world, and the unlikely friendship sparked by their curious first meeting offers both of them a welcome respite from the routine of their lives.
It is a friendship that will answer questions neither of them knew to ask, uncovering secret stories from the past that have stayed hidden for decades. But will it also be the catalyst for them to finally feel that they belong?
August, 1585. England is on the brink of war…
Sir Francis Drake is preparing to launch a daring expedition against the Spanish when a murder aboard his ship changes everything.
A relentless enemy. A treacherous conspiracy.
Giordano Bruno agrees to hunt the killer down, only to find that more than one deadly plot is brewing in Plymouth’s murky underworld. And as he tracks a murderer through its dangerous streets, he uncovers a conspiracy that threatens the future of England itself.
Atmospheric, intoxicating and filled with intrigue, this sweeping novel is an epic story spanning the centuries, that links three women together across history.
Libby Snow spent her childhood hearing stories and legends from long ago. Now an archaeologist, her job is to dig deeper into the past, but her excavation at Ullaness, on Scotland’s west coast has a very personal resonance. For the headland of Ullaness holds not only the secrets of the legend of Ulla, the Norsewoman, but also begins the strange story of Ellen.
Libby’s grandmother passed on these tales – of love, betrayal and loss – but the more Libby learns at Ullaness, the more twisted the threads become. When human remains are discovered in the dunes, it becomes clear that time, and intention, have distorted accounts of what happened there. Is it too late to uncover the truth? Or is Libby herself in danger of being caught up in this tangled web of fable and deceit?
A girl is taken from the streets of Oxford. But it’s unlike any abduction DI Fawley’s seen before . . .
Faith Appleford was attacked, a plastic bag tied over her head, taken to an isolated location . . . and then, by some miracle, she escaped.
What’s more, when DC Erica Somer interviews Faith, she quickly becomes convinced that Faith knows who her abductor is.
Yet Faith refuses to press charges.
Without more evidence, it’s looking like the police may have to drop the case.
But what happens if Faith’s attacker strikes again?
It’s been 192 days, seven hours and fifteen minutes since her last drink. Now Astrid is trying to turn her life around.
Having reluctantly moved back in with her mother, in a quiet seaside town away from the temptations and painful memories of her life before, Astrid is focusing on her recovery. She’s going to meetings. Confessing her misdeeds. Making amends to those she’s wronged.
But someone knows exactly what Astrid is running from. And they won’t stop until she learns that some mistakes can’t be corrected.
Some mistakes, you have to pay for . . .