So here we go with this week’s list, with a much bigger selection than last week. Worringly, for my bank balance, there’s way too many I’d like to buy. As usual the titles will be a mix of eBooks, paperbacks and hardbacks, all available to pre-order. Publication dates were correct as at time of writing.
(NB I am a member of the affiliate schemes run by Amazon and, Hive Books which means that any qualifying sales made via the links below will earn me a small commission – at no extra cost to you)
Her Last Words by Kim Kelly
A murder. A missing manuscript. An undying love.
Thisbe Chisholm wants to be a writer. It’s 2007, a time of digital revolution and skyrocketing property prices, but she’s an old-fashioned girl. She doesn’t even own a mobile phone. She has no stars-in-her-eyes desire for fame, to see her name on the cover of a book, either. She longs only to tell of the stories written on her heart.
While her best friends, Penny and Jane, and her darling boyfriend, John, seem set for stellar careers in their chosen fields, Thisbe works nights as a hostess at a glitzy harbourside Sydney club – a job she despises but it’s paid the rent for the last three years since university graduation.
Just as she completes her novel, though, she is brutally killed at the end of John’s street.
Who murdered Thisbe? What will become of her novel?
From the gritty glamour of Bondi Beach to the cold streets of London, here is a tale of tragedy and literary betrayal, of a publishing industry grappling with change and a great love drowning in guilt-wracked grief. Haunting, whimsical and sharply observed, Her Last Words lays bare the truth that, while some crimes might go unpunished among the privileged, words themselves have a way of enduring – and exacting a justice all their own.
Under a Starry Sky by Laura Kemp
One summer to change her life…
Wanda Williams has always dreamed of leaving her wellies behind her and travelling the world! Yet every time she comes close to following her heart, life always seems to get in the way.
So, when her mother ends up in hospital and her sister finds out she’s pregnant with twins, Wanda knows that only she can save the crumbling campsite at the family farm.
Together with her friends in the village, she sets about sprucing up the site, mowing the fields, replanting the allotment and baking homemade goodies for the campers.
But when a long-lost face from her past turns up, Wanda’s world is turned upside-down. And under a starry sky, anything can happen…
Across the Water by Ingrid Alexandra
Secrets can pull you under…
In a remote, boat-access only house, Liz Dawson’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she watches the people who live in the three identical houses that sit side by side across the creek. But it’s the middle house Liz finds herself drawn to most: the beautiful young mother, Delilah Waters, and her baby.
When Dee and her baby go missing, last seen by the murky waters of Oyster Creek, it is a suspected murder-suicide. After all, it’s no secret that Dee Waters never wanted children. She wasn’t coping with the baby. Everyone in the town believes she leapt to her death, taking her child with her. Everyone except Liz.
Wrestling with her own demons, Liz risks everything to uncover a truth that becomes more complex with every twist. Of all people, Liz knows that just because someone is a reluctant mother, it doesn’t mean they don’t love their child. And it doesn’t mean they’re capable of murder… does it?
The Ringmaster’s Daughter by Carly Schabowski
Circus people don’t ask who you were before, or what god you believe in… when you join the circus, you are family, whatever your past.
Paris, 1940. Twenty-year-old Michel Bonnet lives on the edge of the law, finding work where he can breaking in horses on the outskirts of the city. But when the Nazis invade, Michel takes refuge as a stowaway on a rickety train bound for the rural south. It’s a journey that will change his life forever.
The train is property of Le Cirque Neumann – a travelling circus owned by the troubled and irritable showman Werner Neumann. Neumann offers Michel a job caring for the company’s horses – a lucky break, but with an unusual condition attached. Michel must keep to himself and never speak of what he sees behind the glittering curtain of the big top.
But as Michel finds himself pulled into the strange and wondrous world of the great spectacular it becomes more difficult to keep his promise. Why does the man with the performing monkey never speak, and the sword swallower turn his face away? Who are the silent, shadowy figures who flit like moths between the wagons when the sun is down? It’s clear that Neumann is keeping his performers hidden away… but why?
And how can Michel win the love of the beautiful and exotic trapeze artist Freida – the graceful, green-eyed star of Neuman’s spectacular – when he’s been forbidden to even meet her gaze?
Fast Girls by Elise Hooper
Acclaimed author Elise Hooper explores the gripping, real life history of female athletes, members of the first integrated women’s Olympic team, and their journeys to the 1936 summer games in Berlin, Nazi Germany. Perfect for readers who love untold stories of amazing women, such as The Only Woman in the Room, Hidden Figures, and The Lost Girls of Paris.
In the 1928 Olympics, Chicago’s Betty Robinson competes as a member of the first-ever women’s delegation in track and field. Destined for further glory, she returns home feted as America’s Golden Girl until a nearly-fatal airplane crash threatens to end everything.
Outside of Boston, Louise Stokes, one of the few black girls in her town, sees competing as an opportunity to overcome the limitations placed on her. Eager to prove that she has what it takes to be a champion, she risks everything to join the Olympic team.
From Missouri, Helen Stephens, awkward, tomboyish, and poor, is considered an outcast by her schoolmates, but she dreams of escaping the hardships of her farm life through athletic success. Her aspirations appear impossible until a chance encounter changes her life.
These three athletes will join with others to defy society’s expectations of what women can achieve. As tensions bring the United States and Europe closer and closer to the brink of war, Betty, Louise, and Helen must fight for the chance to compete as the fastest women in the world amidst the pomp and pageantry of the Nazi-sponsored 1936 Olympics in Berlin.
Murder in Chianti by Camilla Trichieri
Mourning the loss of his late wife, Rita, former detective Nico Doyle moves to her hometown of Gravigna in the wine region of Chianti. He isn’t sure if it’s peace he’s seeking, but that certainly isn’t what he finds: early one morning he hears a gunshot near his cabin and walks outside to the sight of a flashily dressed man with his face blown off.
Salvatore Perillo, the local inspector, enlists Nico’s help with the murder case. It turns out more than one person in this idyllic corner of Italy knew the victim, and with a very small pool of suspects, including his own in-laws, Nico must dig up Gravigna’s every last painful secret to get to the truth.
Flying Solo by Zoe May
Rachel Watson has it all worked out. By 30, she’s ticked off most of the goals on her Life List. She’s a home owner, a partner at her law firm, she has a gorgeous boyfriend, lots of hobbies and loads of good friends. The only thing that’s missing is a ring on her finger.
According to her Life List, Rachel should be getting hitched around now, so when her boyfriend, Paul, plans a romantic date, Rachel’s pretty confident he’s going to propose. Except Paul has other ideas. He’s jetting off to India to find himself.
Distraught, Rachel doesn’t know what to do. Not one to easily admit defeat, she embarks on a mission to win him back.
Flying solo to India is definitely not part of Rachel’s plans, but could her trip teach her unexpected lessons about love, life and herself? Could she realise that perhaps her Life List wasn’t exactly what she wanted, after all?
Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers
1957, south-east suburbs of London.
Jean Swinney is a feature writer on a local paper, disappointed in love and – on the brink of forty – living a limited existence with her truculent mother.
When a young Swiss woman, Gretchen Tilbury, contacts the paper to claim that her daughter is the result of a virgin birth, it is down to Jean to discover whether she is a miracle or a fraud.
But the more she investigates, the more her life becomes strangely (and not unpleasantly) intertwined with that of the Tilburys: Gretchen herself, her husband Howard – with his dry wit and gentle disposition – and her charming daughter Margaret.
But they are the subject of the story Jean is researching for the newspaper, a story that increasingly seems to be causing dark ripples across all their lives. And yet Jean cannot bring herself to discard the chance of finally having a taste of happiness.
But there will be a price to pay – and it will be unbearable.
Pondweed by Lisa Blower
A love story in the slow lane about loss and getting lost—two childhood sweethearts take a trip via pints, ponds and pitstops to find their future on a road less travelled from Stoke-on-Trent to Wales
Apparently, we spend almost two weeks of our life completely lost. If you add up all the times you take a wrong turn or find yourself somewhere you don’t want to be, it equates to fourteen days of essentially being missing.
One Monday afternoon, around three o’clock, pond supplies salesman Selwyn Robby arrives home towing the Toogood Aquatics exhibition caravan and orders his like-wife, Imogen ‘Ginny’ Dare, to get into the car. He’s taking her on a little holiday, he says. To Wales. So begins their road trip west, via blasts from Selwyn’s past, and a fortnight’s journey of self-discovery for them both. But it’s a fishy business towing this caravan, with its saucy mermaid curtains and fully stocked bar, and Ginny must untangle the pondweed to get to the bottom of it, even it does mean unearthing her own murky past to find out.
Playdate by Alex Dahl
It was meant to be your daughter’s first sleepover.
Now it’s an abduction.
Lucia Blix went home from school for a playdate with her new friend Josie. Later that evening, Lucia’s mother Elisa dropped her overnight things round and kissed her little girl goodnight.
That was the last time she saw her daughter.
The next morning, when Lucia’s dad arrived to pick her up, the house was empty. No furniture, no family, no Lucia.
In Playdate, Alex Dahl puts a microscope on a seemingly average, seemingly happy family plunged into a life-altering situation. Who has taken their daughter, and why?
Tell Me How it Ends by V B Grey
Delia Maxwell is an international singing sensation, an icon of 1950s glamour who is still riding high on the new 60s scene. Adored by millions, all men want to be with her, all women want to be her. But one woman wants it maybe a little too much…
Lily Brooks has watched Delia all her life, studying her music and her on-stage mannerisms. Now she has a dream job as Delia’s assistant – but is there more to her attachment than the admiration of a fan? Private investigator Frank is beginning to wonder.
As Lily steps into Delia’s spotlight, and Delia encourages her ambitious protegée, Frank’s suspicions of Lily’s ulterior motives increase. But are his own feelings for Delia clouding his judgement?
The truth is something far darker: the shocking result of years of pain and rage, rooted in Europe’s darkest hour. If Delia thought she had put her past behind her, she had better start watching her back.
Spirited by Julie Cohen
Viola has an impossible talent. Searching for meaning in her grief, she uses her photography to feel closer to her late father, taking solace from the skills he taught her – and to keep her distance from her husband. But her pictures seem to capture things invisible to the eye . . .
Henriette is a celebrated spirit medium, carrying nothing but her secrets with her as she travels the country. When she meets Viola, a powerful connection is sparked between them – but Victorian society is no place for reckless women.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, invisible threads join Viola and Henriette to another woman who lives in secrecy, hiding her dangerous act of rebellion in plain sight.
Faith. Courage. Love. What will they risk for freedom?
All My Lies by Dorothy Koomson
The breath-taking sequel to the iconic Sunday Times bestseller The Ice Cream Girls.
Verity is telling lies…
And that’s why she’s about to be arrested for attempted murder.
Serena has been lying for years. . .
And that may have driven her daughter, Verity, to do something unthinkable…
Poppy’s lies have come back to haunt her . . .
So will her quest for the truth hurt everyone she loves?
But whose lies are going to end in tragedy?
Here and Now by Santa Montefiore
Faced with losing everything, all that matters is Here and Now . . .
Marigold has spent her life taking care of those around her, juggling family life with the running of the local shop, and being an all-round leader in her quiet yet welcoming community. When she finds herself forgetting things, everyone quickly puts it down to her age. But something about Marigold isn’t quite right, and it’s becoming harder for people to ignore.
As Marigold’s condition worsens, for the first time in their lives her family must find ways to care for the woman who has always cared for them. Desperate to show their support, the local community come together to celebrate Marigold, and to show her that losing your memories doesn’t matter, when there are people who will remember them for you . . .
Ten Little Words by Leah Mercer
I am always with you. I will always be here.
This was the promise Ella’s mother betrayed thirty years ago when she walked into the sea, leaving her five-year-old daughter alone in the world. Ella’s been angry ever since, building up a wall to protect herself. But that all changes the day she opens a newspaper and finds those ten little words printed in a classified ad.
Ella refuses to believe her mother could still be alive—that would mean she did want to live, just not with her daughter. So she throws herself into finding out exactly what happened all those years ago, determined to extinguish even the tiniest flame of hope—for Ella, hope is torture.
But rather than settling things once and for all, what Ella discovers shatters her world. As she pieces together the truth behind her mother’s disappearance, she learns that the words are not what she thought.
Now she knows the truth. Is it possible that Ella can allow herself to love—and be loved—once again?
The Day She Came Back by Amanda Prowse
From the bestselling author of The Girl in the Corner comes a story that asks: how do you forgive the family that lied to you, and love the mum you never had?
When her loving, free-spirited grandmother Primrose passes away, Victoria is bereft, yet resilient—she has survived tragedy before. But even her strength is tested when a mysterious woman attends Prim’s funeral and claims to be the mother Victoria thought was dead.
As the two women get to know each other and Victoria begins to learn more about her past, it becomes clear that her beloved grandmother had been keeping life-changing secrets from her. Desperate for answers, she still struggles to trust anyone to tell her the truth.
To live a full and happy life, Victoria knows she must not only uncover the truth, but find a way to forgive her family. But after so many years, is trusting them even possible?
Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland
Atlantic City, 1934. Every summer, Esther and Joseph Adler rent their house out to vacationers escaping to “America’s Playground” and move into the small apartment above their bakery. Despite the cramped quarters, this is the apartment where they raised their two daughters, Fannie and Florence, and it always feels like home.
Now Florence has returned from college, determined to spend the summer training to swim the English Channel, and Fannie, pregnant again after recently losing a baby, is on bedrest for the duration of her pregnancy. After Joseph insists they take in a mysterious young woman whom he recently helped emigrate from Nazi Germany, the apartment is bursting at the seams.
Esther only wants to keep her daughters close and safe but some matters are beyond her control: there’s Fannie’s risky pregnancy—not to mention her always-scheming husband, Isaac—and the fact that the handsome heir of a hotel notorious for its anti-Semitic policies, seems to be in love with Florence.
When tragedy strikes, Esther makes the shocking decision to hide the truth—at least until Fannie’s baby is born—and pulls the family into an elaborate web of secret-keeping and lies, bringing long-buried tensions to the surface that reveal how quickly the act of protecting those we love can turn into betrayal.
Based on a true story and told in the vein of J. Courtney Sullivan’s Saints for All Occasions and Anita Diamant’s The Boston Girl, Beanland’s family saga is a breathtaking portrait of just how far we will go to in order to protect our loved ones and an uplifting portrayal of how the human spirit can endure—and even thrive—after tragedy.
The Light at the End of the Day by Eleanor Wasserberg
A family scattered.
Lovers torn apart.
A painting that unites them all.
When Jozef is commissioned to paint a portrait of the younger daughter of Kraków’s grand Oderfeldt family, it is only his desperate need for money that drives him to accept. He has no wish to indulge a pampered child-princess or her haughty, condescending parents – and almost doesn’t notice Alicia’s bookish older sister, Karolina.
But when he is ushered by a servant into their house on Kraków’s fashionable Bernadyńska street in the winter of 1937, he has no inkling of the way his life will become entangled with the Oderfeldts’. Or of the impact that the German invasion will have upon them all.
As Poland is engulfed by war, and Jozef’s painting is caught up in the tides of history, Alicia, Karolina and their parents are forced to flee – their Jewish identity transformed into something dangerous, and their comfortable lives overturned …
Spanning countries and decades The Light at the End of the Day is a heart-breaking novel of exile, survival and how we remember what is lost.
Fresh Water for Flowers by Valerie Perrin
Violette Toussaint is the caretaker at a cemetery in a small town in Bourgogne. Random visitors, regulars, and her colleagues—three gravediggers, three groundskeepers, and a priest—visit her to warm themselves in her lodge, where laughter, companionship, and occasional tears mix with the coffee that she offers them. Her daily life is lived to the rhythms of their hilarious and touching confidences.
Violette’s routine is disrupted one day by the arrival of a man—Julien Seul, local police chief—who insists on depositing the ashes of his recently departed mother on the gravesite of a complete stranger. It soon becomes clear the grave Julien is looking for belongs to his mother’s one-time lover, and that his mother’s story of clandestine love is intertwined with Violette’s own secret past and the grief within it.
With Fresh Water for Flowers, Valérie Perrin gives readers the funny, moving, intimately told story of a woman who believes obstinately in happiness. Perrin has the rare talent of illuminating the exceptional and the poetic in what seems ordinary. A delightful, atmospheric, absorbing fairy tale full of poetry, generosity, and warmth.
The Syndicate by GJ Minett
YOU THINK YOU’RE FREE, BUT THEY’LL NEVER LET YOU LEAVE . . .
Twenty years ago, Jon Kavanagh worked for a crime syndicate.
Then one night he made a mistake.
He left a witness at a crime scene. Alive.
Now, he is haunted by the memories of that young girl. Her face a constant reminder of the life he chose to leave behind. Time has passed and now he wants answers: What ever happened to her?
Anna Hill is an aspiring singer, but the bars and clubs she works in are far from exciting. When she is given the opportunity to work in Portugal, she takes it. This is her chance to finally kick-start her career.
But the job offer comes at a price; one that will endanger the lives of those she knows, and those she doesn’t. Becoming involved with the Syndicate is risky, and Anna will need her instincts to work out who to trust – and who not to . . .
Just the Two of Us by Jo Wilde
What if the one you least want to be stuck with . . . is the one you married?
Julie and Michael Marshall have been married for thirty-four years. They’ve stayed together through thick and thin, through better and worse – and, for the last few years, it has mostly been worse.
They sleep in separate beds, live in opposite ends of their house and exchange approximately ten words a week.
As their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary approaches, Julie realises something: she doesn’t want to pretend anymore. Divorce papers at the ready, she’s just about to have The Talk with Michael when everything changes.
Lockdown begins and Julie and Michael face the greatest terror they can imagine: uninterrupted time with one another.
Isolated in their house, they wonder how they will ever survive the coming weeks. But, when stripped of all distraction and forced to meet eyes across the dinner table, could it be that Julie and Michael might find a way back to where they first began?
Another cracking week this week, more than a few I fancy in that selection – this new feature is doing nothing for my reading list, which is already than longer than the years I have left (nothing morbid intended, just pure fact!)