My Bookish Month – October, 2020

Well lets start off by admitting that spending restraint went out of the window this month. There were some fabulous bargains to be had and so they had to be bought. As I’m now in a Tier 2 lockdown area, the ongoing Covid19 situation continues to remind me of the things that are personally important. Books have always been important to me and the knowledge that I have them, either virtually or physically is something that makes me happy. A quotation I’ve seen appearing on Facebook is one that sums up the situation, and is one I’m entirely in agreement with.

De Montfort Literature on Twitter: "Which is your favourite hobby? Buying  books or reading books? . . . #buying #reading #hobby… "

Books Bought

(NB As an Amazon Associate, Bookshop and Hive Affiliate I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases)

Offering to the Storm by Delores Redondo

The final book in Dolores Redondo’s atmospheric Baztan trilogy, featuring Inspector Amaia Salazar. With masterful storytelling and a detective to rival Sarah Lund, this Spanish bestselling series has taken Europe by storm.

It begins with a murdered child. It ends in a valley where nightmares are born.

When Detective Inspector Amaia Salazar is called in to investigate the death of a baby girl, she finds an ominous sign that points to murder.

The girl’s grandmother tells the police that the ‘Inguma’ was responsible – an evil demon of Basque mythology that kills people in their sleep – Amaia is forced to return to the Baztán valley for answers.

Back where it all began, she comes face to face with a ghost from her past. And finally uncovers a devastating truth that has ravaged the valley for years.


Where the Dead Men Go by Liam McIlvanney

After three years in the wilderness, hardboiled reporter Gerry Conway is back at his desk at the Glasgow Tribune. But three years is a long time on newspapers and things have changed – readers are dwindling, budgets are tightening, and the Trib‘s once rigorous standards are slipping. Once the paper’s star reporter, Conway now plays second fiddle to his former protégé, crime reporter Martin Moir.

But when Moir goes AWOL as a big story breaks, Conway is dispatched to cover a gangland shooting. And when Moir’s body turns up in a flooded quarry, Conway is drawn deeper into the city’s criminal underworld as he looks for the truth about his colleague’s death. Braving the hostility of gangsters, ambitious politicians and his own newspaper bosses, Conway discovers he still has what it takes to break a big story. But this is a story not everyone wants to hear as the city prepares to host the Commonwealth Games and the country gears up for a make-or-break referendum on independence.


Normal People by Sally Rooney

Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in the west of Ireland, but the similarities end there. In school, Connell is popular and well-liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation – awkward but electrifying – something life-changing begins.

Normal People is a story of mutual fascination, friendship and love. It takes us from that first conversation to the years beyond, in the company of two people who try to stay apart but find they can’t.


Next year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity—and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution…

Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba’s high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country’s growing political unrest—until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary…

Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa’s last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth.

Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba’s tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she’ll need the lessons of her grandmother’s past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.


The Family Tree by Sairish Hussain

Your roots can always lead you home…

Amjad cradles his baby daughter in the middle of the night. He has no time to mourn his wife’s death. Saahil and Zahra, his two small children, are relying on him. Amjad vows to love and protect them always.
 
Years later, Saahil and his best friend, Ehsan, have finished university and are celebrating with friends. But when the night turns dangerous, its devastating effects will ripple through the years to come.
 
Zahra’s world is alight with politics and activism. But she is now her father’s only source of comfort, and worries she’ll never have time for her own aspirations. Life has taken her small family in different directions – will they ever find their way back to each other?
 
The Family Tree is the moving story of a British Muslim family full of love, laughter and resilience as well as all the faults, mistakes and stubborn loyalties which make us human.


One More Croissant for the Road by Felicity Cloake

The nation’s ‘taster in chief’ cycles 2,300 km across France in search of the definitive versions of classic French dishes.

A green bike drunkenly weaves its way up a cratered hill in the late-morning sun, the gears grinding painfully, like a pepper mill running on empty. The rider crouched on top in a rictus of pain has slowed to a gravity-defying crawl when, from somewhere nearby, the whine of a nasal engine breaks through her ragged breathing.
A battered van appears behind her, the customary cigarette dangling from its driver’s-side window… as he passes, she casually reaches down for some water, smiling broadly in the manner of someone having almost too much fun. ‘No sweat,’ she says jauntily to his retreating exhaust pipe. ‘Pas de problème, monsieur.’

A land of glorious landscapes, and even more glorious food, France is a place built for cycling and for eating, too – a country large enough to give any journey an epic quality, but with a bakery on every corner. Here, you can go from beach to mountain, Atlantic to Mediterranean, polder to Pyrenees, and taste the difference every time you stop for lunch. If you make it to lunch, that is…

Part travelogue, part food memoir, all love letter to France, One More Croissant for the Road follows ‘the nation’s taster in chief’ Felicity Cloake’s very own Tour de France, cycling 2,300km across France in search of culinary perfection; from Tarte Tatin to Cassoulet via Poule au Pot, and Tartiflette. Each of the 21 ‘stages’ concludes with Felicity putting this new found knowledge to good use in a fresh and definitive recipe for each dish – the culmination of her rigorous and thorough investigative work on behalf of all of our taste buds.


Midsummer Dreams at Mill Grange by Jenny Kane

Thea Thomas needs to get away from her old life… and the interfering ex who won’t leave her alone. When she lands a job heading up the restoration of Mill Grange, a stunning Victorian manor in Somerset, it feels like the perfect opportunity to start afresh.

What she didn’t anticipate was how hostile the volunteer team – led by the formidable Mabel Hastings – would be about accepting new leadership. And with the deadline looming before the grand opening, Thea is in desperate need of more volunteers.

A broadcast appeal on the local news attracts the interest of troublesome but undeniably attractive celebrity historian Shaun Cowlson, who wants to make a TV programme about the restoration. It’s hard enough adding one more big personality to the mix – but then her ex turns up as one of the volunteers! What seemed like a dream come true is fast becoming a total disaster! Can Thea find a way to save the manor?


Hush Little Baby by Jane Isaac

Someone stole a baby…

One sunny day in July, someone took three-month-old Alicia Owen from her pram outside a supermarket. Her mother, Marie, was inside. No one saw who took Alicia. And no one could find her.

They silenced her cry…

Fifteen years later, a teenager on a construction site sees a tiny hand in the ground. When the police investigate, they find a baby buried and preserved in concrete. Could it be Alicia?

But the truth will always out.

When Alicia disappeared, the papers accused Marie of detachment and neglect. The Owens never got over the grief of their child’s disappearance and divorced not long after. By reopening the case, DC Beth Chamberlain must reopen old wounds. But the killer may be closer than anyone ever suspected…


My One True North by Milly Johnson

Laurie and Pete should never have met.
But fate has pushed them together for a reason.

 
Six months ago, on the same night, Laurie and Pete both lost their partners.
Struggling to manage the grief, they join the same counselling group – and meet each other.
 
From their sadness, Pete and Laurie find happiness growing and they sense a fresh new beginning. 
Except, the more they talk, the more they begin to spot the strange parallels in their stories.
Then Pete discovers a truth that changes everything.
 
But, as surely as a compass points north, some people cannot be kept apart.


The Singapore Grip by J G Farrell
The Singapore Grip : NOW A MAJOR ITV DRAMA, Paperback / softback Book

Singapore, 1939: Walter Blackett, ruthless rubber merchant, is head of British Singapore’s oldest and most powerful firm. And his family’s prosperous world of tennis parties, cocktails and deferential servants seems unchanging. No one suspects it – but this world is poised on the edge of the abyss. This is the eve of the Fall of Singapore.

A love story and a war story, a tragicomic tale of a city under siege and a dying way of life, The Singapore Grip is a modern classic.


The Quiet Man by Caimh McDonnell

Getting into prison is easy, it’s getting out that’s tricky.

Almost everyone in prison will tell you they’re in there for a crime they didn’t commit, but Anthony Rourke really means it. That’s because he’s actually Bunny McGarry, who has got himself into one of Nevada’s finest penitentiaries under false pretences. He is there to bust someone else out.   

The Sisters of the Saint, no ordinary bunch of nuns, find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place when two of their order are taken hostage. The only way to ensure their safe return is to trade them for the mysterious man who is now Bunny’s cellmate. Rumours abound as to who this man really is, but seeing as nobody is allowed to communicate with him in any way, figuring that out will be tricky.

The last thing the situation needs is further complications, but when Sister Dionne comes into contact with an UFO cult, she recognises it as a massive con job. The reason she is so sure is because the whole thing was her idea in the first place – and now she is determined to put an end to it.

The clock is ticking, the prison authorities are suspicious, and lying low has never been a McGarry strong suit. Can Bunny and the Sisters pull off an audacious prison break against near impossible odds? It’s The Shawshank Redemption meets Ocean’s Eleven.


City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

New York, 1940. Young, glamorous and inseparable, Vivian and Celia are chasing trouble from one end of the city to the other. But there is risk in all this play – that’s what makes it so fun, and so dangerous. Sometimes, the world may feel like it’s ending, but for Vivian and Celia, life is just beginning.

City of Girls
 is about daring to break conventions and follow your desires: a celebration of glamour, resilience, growing up, and the joys of female friendship – and about the freedom that comes from finding a place you truly belong.


A Borrowed Life by Kerry Anne King

For thirty years Liz has perfectly played the part of Mrs. Thomas Lightsey, exemplary pastor’s wife and mother. But maintaining appearances for the congregation and catering to her demanding husband takes a toll, and she’s lost herself in meeting the expectations of others. When Thomas suddenly dies, Liz feels shock, grief, and, to her surprise, the siren song of freedom. Dare she dream of a life to call her own?

Despite the resistance of her daughter, Abigail, to even the smallest changes, Liz lands a role at the community theater. Inspired by new friends and the character she plays, she explores life’s possibilities, including an unexpected—and steamy—relationship with her leading man.

Just when Liz thinks she might be winning, life hits her with an unthinkable shock. She’s pregnant at forty-nine. Torn between conflicting loyalties to her daughter, her lover, her unborn baby, and herself, can Liz find a way to rebuild her dream life one more time?


The Vanished Child by M J Lee

What would you do if you discovered you had a brother you never knew existed?

On her deathbed, Freda Duckworth confesses to giving birth to an illegitimate child in 1944 and temporarily placing him in a children’s home. She returned later but he had vanished. 

What happened to the child? Why did he disappear? Where did he go? 

Jayne Sinclair, genealogical investigator, is faced with lies, secrets, and one of the most shameful episodes in recent history as she attempts to uncover the truth.

Can she find the vanished child?

This book is the fourth in the Jayne Sinclair Genealogical Mystery series, but can be read as a stand alone novel.

Every childhood lasts a lifetime.


Soldier Boy by Cassandra Parkin

Under the shadow of trauma, Liam has been discharged from the army. As night terrors torment him and he struggles to keep his anger intact, he finds himself in his car, his daughter Alannah asleep in the back, while his wife Emma has gone AWOL. With no idea where to go for shelter, his only goal is to hold onto his daughter at all costs. But Alannah is on a journey of her own.

As the consequences of Alannah’s choices unfold, nothing will ever be the same again.

Soldier Boy is gripping story about secrets, fear, longing, lies and the power of being true to yourself, even when the price is higher than you could have imagined.


The Geography of Friendship by Sally Piper

When three women set off on a hike through the wilderness they are anticipating the adventure of a lifetime. Over the next five days, as they face up to the challenging terrain, it soon becomes clear they are not alone.

Lisa, Samantha and Nicole have known each other since school. Lisa is a fighter, Samantha a peacekeeper and Nicole a rule follower. United they bring out the best in one another. 

Only once it is too late for them to turn back do they appreciate the danger they are in. Their friendship is tested, and each of them must make a choice that will change their lives forever.


A Deathly Silence by Jane Isaac

When the mutilated body of a police officer is found in a derelict factory, the Hamptonshire police force is shocked to the core.

DCI Helen Lavery returns from injury leave and is immediately plunged into an investigation like no other. Is this a random attack or is someone targeting the force? Organised crime groups or a lone killer?

As the net draws in, Helen finds the truth lies closer than she could have imagined, and trusts no one.

But Helen is facing a twisted killer who will stop at nothing to ensure their secrets remain hidden. And time is running out…


Lies to Tell by Marion Todd

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer…

Early one morning DI Clare Mackay receives a message from her boss DCI Alastair Gibson telling her to meet him in secret. She does as he asks and is taken to a secure location in the remote Scottish hills. There, she is introduced to ethical hacker Gayle Crichton and told about a critical security breach coming from inside Police Scotland. Clare is sworn to secrecy and must conceal Gayle’s identity from colleagues until the source is found.

Clare already has her hands full keeping a key witness under protection and investigating the murder of a university student. When a friend of the victim is found preparing to jump off the Tay Road Bridge it is clear he is terrified of someone. But who? Clare realises too late that she has trusted the wrong person. As her misplaced faith proves a danger to herself and others, Clare must fight tooth and nail to protect those she cares about and see justice done.


Sea of Bones by Deborah O’Donoghue

A career politician investigates the suspicious death of her niece in this “stirring and evocative thriller” set in the Scottish Highlands (T.F. Muir, author of the DCI Andy Gilchrist series).

As Chief of Staff for the Progressive Alliance, Juliet MacGillivray is used to wielding influence and getting answers. But when her beloved niece Beth is found dead at her family’s Scottish Highlands castle, Juliet is suddenly powerless in the face of her grief. Worse, her doubts over the coroner’s report of suicide fall on deaf ears.

Travelling back to the remote coastal home, Juliet delves deep into the investigation. As her personal and professional lives collide, she unwittingly finds herself pitted against dangerous individuals who seem intent on silencing her. In order to expose the truth behind her niece’s death, Juliet must face the fact that nobody in her life is who she previously thought them to be—including herself.


Postscript by Cecelia Ahern

The PS, I Love You Club. These are the six words written on a card handed to Holly Kennedy. They’re words that are engraved on her heart – because PS, I Love You is how her husband, Gerry, signed his last letters to her, letters that mark a year she will never forget.

Now, the mysterious club wants something from her. And if Holly can find the courage meet them, she’ll learn what it really means to live life to the full.

Because every love story has one last thing to say…


The Cottage of Curiosities by Celia Anderson

Tucked away amongst the winding, cobbled streets of Pengelly in Cornwall, the old stone cottage on Memory Lane is full of secrets. Brimming with trinkets and treasures, there are thousands of stories hidden within its walls.

Fifty-four-year-old Grace Clarke arrives in Pengelly determined to uncover the secrets of her past. Standing outside the little cottage, she feels sure that the answers she craves lie inside. The truth about her mysterious long-lost mother and the even more mysterious gifts she was born with…


Where the Edge is by Grainne Murphy

As a sleepy town in rural Ireland starts to wake, a road subsides, trapping an early-morning bus and five passengers inside. Rescue teams struggle and as two are eventually saved, the bus falls deeper into the hole.

Under the watchful eyes of the media, the lives of three people are teetering on the edge. And for those on the outside, from Nina, the reporter covering the story, to rescue liaison, Tim, and Richie, the driver pulled from the wreckage, each are made to look at themselves under the glare of the spotlight.

When their world crumbles beneath their feet, they are forced to choose between what they cling to and what they must let go of.


Queen Bees by Sian Evans

Queen Bees looks at the lives of six remarkable women who made careers out of being society hostesses, including Lady Astor, who went on to become the first female MP, and Mrs Greville, who cultivated relationships with Edward VII, as well as Lady Londonderry, Lady Cunard, Laura Corrigan and Lady Colefax. Written with wit, verve and heart, Queen Bees is the story of a form of societal revolution, and the extraordinary women who helped it happen.

In the aftermath of the First World War, the previously strict hierarchies of the British class system were weakened. For a number of ambitious, spirited women, this was the chance they needed to slip through the cracks and take their place at the top of society as the great hostesses of the time. In an age when the place of women was uncertain, becoming a hostess was not a chore, but a career choice, and though some of the hostesses’ backgrounds were surprisingly humble, their aspirations were anything but. During the inter-war years these extraordinary women ruled over London society from their dining tables and salons – entertaining everyone from the Mosleys to the Mitfords, from millionaires to maharajahs, from film stars to royalty – and their influence can still be felt today.


The Last Bathing Beauty by Amy Sue Nathan

A former beauty queen faces the secrets of her past—for herself and the sake of her family’s future—in a heartfelt novel about fate, choices, and second chances.

Everything seemed possible in the summer of 1951. Back then Betty Stern was an eighteen-year-old knockout working at her grandparents’ lakeside resort. The “Catskills of the Midwest” was the perfect place for Betty to prepare for bigger things. She’d head to college in New York City. Her career as a fashion editor would flourish. But first, she’d enjoy a wondrous last summer at the beach falling deeply in love with an irresistible college boy and competing in the annual Miss South Haven pageant. On the precipice of a well-planned life, Betty’s future was limitless.

Decades later, the choices of that long-ago season still reverberate for Betty, now known as Boop. Especially when her granddaughter comes to her with a dilemma that echoes Boop’s memories of first love, broken hearts, and faraway dreams. It’s time to finally face the past—for the sake of her family and her own happiness. Maybe in reconciling the life she once imagined with the life she’s lived, Boop will discover it’s never too late for a second chance.


The Fatal Passion of Alma Rattenbury by Sean O’Connor

Adultery, alcoholism, drugs and murder on the suburban streets of Bournemouth.

The Rattenbury case of 1935 was one of the great tabloid sensations of the interwar period. The glamorous femme fatale at the heart of the story dominated the front pages for months, somewhere between the rise of Hitler and the launch of the Queen Mary.

With painstaking research and access to brand new evidence, Sean O’Connor vividly brings this epic story to life, from its beginnings in the South London slums of the 1880s and the open vistas of the British Columbian coast, to its bloody climax in a respectable English seaside resort.

The Fatal Passion of Alma Rattenbury is a gripping murder story and a heartbreaking romance as well as the biography of a vital, modern woman trapped between the freedoms of two world wars and suffocated by the conformity of peacetime. A startlingly prescient parable for our times, it is the story of a woman who dared to challenge the status quo only to be crucified by public opinion, pilloried by the press and punished by the relentless machinery of the British legal system.

With a wealth of fascinating period detail, from its breathtaking opening to its shocking conclusion, The Fatal Passion of Alma Rattenbury is a true story as enthralling, as provocative and as moving as any work of fiction.


The Nanny State Made Me by Stuart Maconie

The Nanny State Made Me is a vital piece of popular social history. It reminds us that a more equitable Britain once existed, and that if it happened once it can happen again – and might even be improved on this time round. I loved it.’ Zadie Smith

It was the spirit of our finest hour, the backbone of our post-war greatness, and it promoted some of the boldest and most brilliant schemes this isle has ever produced: it was the Welfare State, and it made you and I. But now it’s under threat, and we need to save it.

In this timely and provocative book, Stuart Maconie tells Britain’s Welfare State story through his own history of growing up as a northern working class boy. What was so bad about properly funded hospitals, decent working conditions and affordable houses? And what was so wrong about student grants, free eye tests and council houses? And where did it all go so wrong? Stuart looks toward Britain’s future, making an emotional case for believing in more than profit and loss; and championing a just, fairer society.


The Way of Beauty by Camille Di Maio

Hearts and dreams evolve in the shadow of the once-magnificent Penn Station.

Vera Keller, the daughter of German immigrants in turn-of-the-century New York City, finds her life upended when the man she loves becomes engaged to another woman. But Angelo Bellavia has also inadvertently opened up Vera’s life to unexpected possibilities. Angelo’s new wife, Pearl, the wealthy daughter of a clothing manufacturer, has defied her family’s expectations by devoting herself to the suffrage movement. In Pearl, Vera finds an unexpected dear friend…and a stirring new cause of her own. But when Pearl’s selfless work pulls her farther from Angelo and their son, the life Vera craved is suddenly within her reach—if her conscience will allow her to take it.

Her choice will define not only her future but also that of her daughter, Alice.

Vera and Alice—a generation and a world apart—are bound by the same passionate drive to fulfill their dreams. As first mother and then daughter come of age in a city that is changing as rapidly as its skyline, they’ll each discover that love is the only constant.


Spencer’s List by Lissa Evans

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.

Spencer’s List is a wonderfully funny tale of life lived on the edge – of reason, of failure and of (just possibly) a brighter future.


The Company Daughters by Samantha Rajaram
The Company Daughters: A heart-wrenching colonial love story by [Samantha Rajaram]

Wanted: Company Daughters. Virtuous young ladies to become the brides of industrious settlers in a foreign land. The Company will pay the cost of the lady’s dowry and travel. Returns not permitted, orphans preferred.

Amsterdam, 1620. Jana Beil has learned that life rarely provides moments of joy. Having run away from a violent father, her days are spent searching for work in an effort to stay out of the city brothels, where desperate women trade their bodies for a mouthful of bread. But when Jana is hired as a servant for the wealthy and kind Master Reynst and his beautiful daughter Sontje, Jana’s future begins to look brighter.

But then Master Reynst loses his fortune on a bad investment, and everything changes. The house is sold to creditors, leaving Jana back on the street and Sontje without a future.

With no other choice, Jana and Sontje are forced to sign with the East India Company as Company Daughters: sailing to a colonial Dutch outpost to become the brides of male settlers they know nothing about. With fear in their hearts, the girls begin their journey – but what awaits them on the other side of the world is nothing like what they’ve been promised…

Based on true history, this is a beautiful and sensual historical novel


The Stromness Dinner by Peter Benson

Ed fits kitchens in the small family business in London, and hes wondering if there isnt more to life. So when Marcus, a client in banking, offers him an extra job refurbishing a cottage in Stromness he thinks, why not? Orkney is certainly a welcome change of scene from Bermondsey, and the works easy enough. Then Marcus sister Claire arrives, all city power and perfume, and events take an unexpected turn. The Stromness Dinner is an offbeat, entirely readable novel about relationships. Beautifully observed, gently humorous, it is a very human and contemporary story about how we live today, and what happens when two people follow their dreams. Peter Benson has created a new sort of hero in Ed Beech, whose homespun philosophy of life stays in the memory long after the novel ends.


The Winter Garden by Heidi Swain

Freya Fuller is estranged from her parents and has been following her childhood dream of becoming a gardener ever since. When an opportunity to design a winter garden opens up at a Victorian property in Nightingale Square, Freya jumps at the chance to make a fresh start. But while the majority of the residents are welcoming, local artist Finn seems determined to shut her out, and when Freya’s family make a surprise appearance, it seems that her new life is about to come crashing down . . .


The Offing by Benjamin Myers

Times Book of the Year
An i Book of the Year
A Reading Agency Book of the YearA BBC Radio 2 Book Club Pick
A BBC Radio 4 ‘Book at Bedtime’
An Observer Pick for 2019

One summer following the Second World War, Robert Appleyard sets out on foot from his Durham village. Sixteen and the son of a coal miner, he makes his way across the northern countryside until he reaches the former smuggling village of Robin Hood’s Bay. There he meets Dulcie, an eccentric, worldly, older woman who lives in a ramshackle cottage facing out to sea.

Staying with Dulcie, Robert’s life opens into one of rich food, sea-swimming, sunburn and poetry. The two come from different worlds, yet as the summer months pass, they form an unlikely friendship that will profoundly alter their futures.


Pre-Orders

Christmas Island by Natalie Norman

Cosy up in front of a fire and discover Christmas the Norwegian way…full of romance, cosy traditions and hygge!

In the bleak midwinter…
A really frosty wind is making Holly’s life absolutely miserable

After all the years of hard work it took Londoner Holly Greene to become a doctor, now it could all be taken away and she only has herself to blame. She’s retreating to her brother’s rustic home on an island off the coast of Norway to lick her wounds. Only, it’s the middle of winter and icy slush plus endless darkness isn’t exactly the cheery, festive getaway she had imagined.

Nearly stumbling off the edge of a cliff in the dark, Holly is saved by Frøy, a yellow-eyed cat of fearsome but fluffy proportions, and his owner – grouchy, bearded recluse, Tor. Tor has his own problems to face but the inexplicable desire to leave a bag of freshly baked gingerbread men on Holly’s doorstep is seriously getting in the way of his hermit routine.

Call it kindness, call it Christmas, but Holly’s arrival means midwinter has never looked less bleak.


The Spanish Girl by Jules Hayes
The Spanish Girl by [Jules Hayes]

A country torn apart by war.
Two love stories divided by decades.
One chance to discover the truth…

Feisty journalist Isabella has never known the truth about her family. Escaping from a dangerous assignment in the turbulent Basque country, she finds her world turned upside down, firstly by her irresistible attraction to the mysterious Rafael, and then by a new clue to her own past.

As she begins to unravel the tangled story of her identity, Isabella uncovers a story of passion, betrayal and loss that reaches back to the dark days of Spain’s civil war – when a passionate Spanish girl risked everything for her country, and for the young British rebel who captured her heart.

But can Isabella trust the man she’s fallen in love with? Or are some wartime secrets better left undisturbed…?

Subscription Books

Remember Me by Amy McLellan (October Capital Crime Club choice)

Last night my sister was murdered. The police think I killed her.

I was there. I watched the knife go in. I saw the man who did it.

He’s someone I know. But he won’t be caught.

Because he knows I have prosopagnosia – I can’t recognise faces.

But if I don’t find him, I’ll be found guilty of murder.


What Lies Between Us by John Marrs (October Capital Crime Club choice)

Nina can never forgive Maggie for what she did. And she can never let her leave.

They say every house has its secrets, and the house that Maggie and Nina have shared for so long is no different. Except that these secrets are not buried in the past.

Every other night, Maggie and Nina have dinner together. When they are finished, Nina helps Maggie back to her room in the attic, and into the heavy chain that keeps her there. Because Maggie has done things to Nina that can’t ever be forgiven, and now she is paying the price.

But there are many things about the past that Nina doesn’t know, and Maggie is going to keep it that way—even if it kills her.

Because in this house, the truth is more dangerous than lies.


Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh (NB Magazine sub choice)

TWO SISTERS ON TRIAL FOR MURDER. THEY ACCUSE EACH OTHER.
WHO DO YOU BELIEVE?

‘911 what’s your emergency?’

‘My dad’s dead. My sister Sofia killed him. She’s still in the house. Please send help.’

‘My dad’s dead. My sister Alexandra killed him. She’s still in the house. Please send help.’

One of them is a liar and a killer.

But which one?


Books I’ve Read This Month

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders.

But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer before it’s too late?


My thoughts?

I’ve seen a lot written about this, either extolling it’s virtues or bemoaning the hype it generated because of Mr Osman’s profile. Well I received this in my September Capital Crime club box so I wasn’t swayed to buy it by any hype it just appeared.

On the face of it not my usual read as for me it had a whiff of ‘cosy’ mystery about it – but it isn’t, or at least, not my idea of one. It was a fun, somewhat tongue in cheek, murder mystery. The body count mounted in an alarming way, Elizabeth seemed to have the most bizarre ‘connections’ and the inhabitants and police formed an unlikely if somewhat implausible alliance. But isn’t that sometimes the whole point of fiction? Right now I don’t want a realistic portrayal of society, I want something light and yes, sometimes far fetched, and this was an enjoyable romp. That said it was not without it’s thoughtful, poignant moments, so not just a superficial read. Think Agatha Christie meets Ealing comedy in a clever, witty story with lots of knowing nods to contemporary culture. I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to the next one.


The Missing Wife by Sheila O’Flanagan

Have YOU ever wanted to disappear?

When Imogen Naughton vanishes, everyone who knows her is shocked. She has a perfect marriage. Her handsome husband treats her like a princess. She’s always said how lucky she is. So why has she left? And how will she survive without Vince?

What goes on behind closed doors is often a surprise, and Imogen surprises herself by taking the leap she knows she must. But as she begins her journey to find the woman she once was, Imogen’s past is right behind her…

Will it catch up with her? And will she be ready to face it if it does?


Coming Home to Penvennan Cove by Linn B Halton (Courtesy of Pigeonhole)
Coming Home to Penvennan Cove by [Linn B. Halton]

Can Kerra’s Cornish hometown offer the fresh start she needs?

When Kerra left the quiet Cornish town of Penvennan Cove for the bright lights of London she didn’t look back. But after the death of her mother, she’s decided it’s time to face her past and return to the place she called home. Her father needs her, and perhaps she needs him more than she’s willing to admit?

Tackling town gossip, home renovations and a flame from her past, it’s not quite smooth sailing for Kerra. Ross is the bad boy she was meant to forget, not a man who still sets her heart aflutter. As he helps bring her dream home to life, they begin to break down the barriers that have been holding them back and in the process learn things about themselves they never thought possible.

As friends old and new come together, the future in Penvennan looks bright.


A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee

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 left 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…


Book Events

This month should have seen me heading off to Beverley for the East Riding Festival of Words Crime Day. Instead I was sat at home dreaming of what might have been, until I spotted they were putting a number of events online. I love that that there have been so many events put online, but I do find it’s a bit like watching the telly so I’ve limited my events to those I really want to see. On this occasion I was happy to sit, watch and listen to Vaseem Khan and Abir Muherjee. Both authors are sitting on my tbr and after watching this I need to read them sooner. It was a fascinating discussion about India, Partition and the ongoing cultural impact of the British Raj. Interesting also to hear their personal family stories as Vaseem’s family moved to Pakistan as a result of Partition, while Abir’s family stayed in West Bengal.

Abir’s Wyndham and Banerjee series of crime novels are set during the British Raj in 1920’s India while Vaseem’s latest book Midnight at Malabar House is set in Bombay in 1950 and introduces Inspector Persis Wadia, India’s first female police detective. His best selling Baby Ganesh Agency crime novels are set in a modern day Mumbai.

A Personal Appearance

Having put lots of authors on the spot via my Five on Friday feature, this month the tables were turned. I was interviewed by author Helen Steadman for her blog. The questions covered a range of topics, so for anyone who wants to know about what makes me tick head over and take a look. Among other things you’ll discover why I’m more than a little bit in love with Seville (not to mention Sangria!). Follow the link – If you can’t get to a cafe, let Jill’s Book cafe come to you…

That’s it for another month folks, Happy Reading!!

8 comments

  1. Some great looking acquisitions there, Jill. I can definitely recommend The Offing. It’s quite different from his previous book, The Gallows Pole, which won The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, but that just proves what a versatile writer he is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d seen mixed reviews but as it dropped through my letterbox I thought I might as well. For anyone looking for a traditional murder mystery this is not it and you do need to suspend belief at times but that was part of its tongue in cheek charm for me. It had more substance than I expected and was an entertaining read.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.