Miraculously this month I managed to rein in on the book buying. I’d like to think that this might be a sign of things to come but I’m not holding my breath. However, I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.
There was a bit of a theme going on with the books I read – I blame spending too long looking at Christmas books for this year’s post! I scoured my own shelves and now have a pile I’m aiming to read before the day itself, assuming I haven’t overdone them before then. Anyway here’s my month in books.
(NB As an Amazon Associate, Bookshop and Hive Affiliate I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases)
Force of Evil by Simon Michael
A seemingly simple case leads Charles to a shocking discovery…
After a series of successful cases, Charles Holborne’s reputation is on the rise.
He is asked to work pro bono to represent a widow in a recent accidental death case.
The deceased was a Sergeant Maynard, an RAF policeman who worked at the Cardington base in Bedfordshire.
It seems his death was the result of a tragic motorcycle collision, but Mrs Maynard insists her husband was murdered.
Though sceptical at first, Charles soon realises she could be right.
And as he delves further, he realises that the RAF base could be the centre of a much bigger criminal undertaking…
As rifts in the corrupt Metropolitan Police are revealed, and the threats to Charles and those he loves escalate, he begins to wonder — has he finally bitten off more than he can chew?
Tangerine by Christine Mangan
The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the horrific accident at Bennington, the two friends – once inseparable roommates – haven’t spoken in over a year. But Lucy is standing there, trying to make things right.
Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out into the bustling medinas and oppressive heat. Lucy, always fearless and independent, helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country.
But soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice – she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn. Then Alice’s husband, John, goes missing, and Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind.
Tangerine is an extraordinary debut, so tightly wound, so evocative of 1950s Tangier, and so cleverly plotted that it will leave you absolutely breathless.
A Wedding on Christmas Street by Ivy Pembroke
Sam is about to propose to his girlfriend Libby, and his neighbours in Christmas Street all think they know the right way to do it. With their help – and sometimes hinderance – Sam gains a fiancée and the wedding planning begins.
Meanwhile, Sam’s nine-year-old son Teddy and his friend Pari – with their constant companion Jack the street dog – are fascinated by the arrival of a mysterious new neighbour on the street who has rented the empty, run-down house. Their attempts to spy on her are thwarted by her staying indoors with the curtains drawn most of the time. But soon Christmas Street begins to work its magic and Millie is reluctantly drawn into street activities.
As Millie starts to relax into thinking she can have a different life, maybe even with Jasper, the local carpenter, someone turns up from her past to threaten that. But with all of the street looking out for her, Millie’s Christmas will be filled with hope and promise.
An Island Christmas by Jenny Colgan
It’s a time for hunkering down, getting cosy in front of whisky barrel wood fires, and enjoying a dram with the people you love – unless, of course, you’re accidentally pregnant to your ex-boss, and don’t know how to tell him. In what should be the season of peace and goodwill on earth, will Joel think Flora is a bearer of glad tidings?
Meanwhile Saif, the doctor and refugee from war-torn Syria is trying to enjoy his first western Christmas with his sons – but without his missing wife. Can the little family possibly find comfort and joy?
Travel to the beautiful northern edge of the world and join the welcoming community of Mure for an unforgettable Christmas.
A Patchwork Family by Cathy Bramley
Gina Moss is single and proud. She’s focused on her thriving childminding business, which she runs from her cottage at the edge of The Evergreens: a charming Victorian home to three elderly residents who adore playing with the kids Gina minds. To Gina, they all feel like family.
Then a run-in (literally) with a tall, handsome American stranger gives her the tummy-flutters… Before a tragedy puts her older friends at risk of eviction – and Gina in charge of the battle to save them. The house sale brings her closer to Dexter, one of the owners – and the stranger who set her heart alight.
As the sparks fly between them, Gina carries on fighting for her friends, her home and her business. But can she fight for her chance at love – and win it all, too?
A Patchwork Family was originally published as a four-part serial. This is the complete story in one package.
Sunny Days & Sea Breezes by Carole Matthews
When does time out become the time of your life?
Jodie Jackson is all at sea, in every sense.
On a ferry bound for the Isle of Wight, she’s leaving her London life, her career, and her husband behind. She’d like a chance to turn back the clocks, but she’ll settle for some peace and quiet on her brother Bill’s beautifully renovated houseboat, Sunny Days.
But from the moment Jodie steps aboard her new home, it’s clear she’ll struggle to keep herself to herself. If it isn’t Marilyn, who cleans for Bill and is under strict instructions to look after Jodie, then it’s Ned, the noisy sculptor on the next-door houseboat. Ned’s wood carving is hard on the ears, but it’s made up for by the fact that he’s rather easy on the eyes.
Bustled out of the boat by Marilyn and encouraged to explore with Ned, Jodie soon delights in her newfound freedom. But out of mind isn’t out of sight, and when her old life comes knocking Jodie is forced to face reality. Will she answer the call or choose a life filled with Sunny Days and Sea Breezes?
Life After You by Sian O’Gorman
What if the person you’ve lost, is the one you need to find?
Milly Bryne’s world came crashing down when she lost her beloved Dad and boyfriend in a matter of weeks.
Losing her Dad broke her family. Losing her soulmate made her give up on life and love.
After swerving from stability to chaos to despair, Milly finally believes she has her life back on track when the unexpected return of a familiar face to Dublin throws her life into a spin.
Milly is forced to decide if her new life is the one for her, or if there is another path that will bring even greater riches of joy, excitement and fun.
Life just isn’t worth living if your heart isn’t in it?
A Patient Fury by Sarah Ward
When Detective Constable Connie Childs is dragged from her bed to the fire-wrecked property on Cross Farm Lane she knows as she steps from the car that this house contains death.
Three bodies discovered – a family obliterated – their deaths all seem to point to one conclusion: One mother, one murderer.
But D.C. Childs, determined as ever to discover the truth behind the tragedy, realises it is the fourth body – the one they cannot find – that holds the key to the mystery at Cross Farm Lane.
What Connie Childs fails to spot is that her determination to unmask the real murderer might cost her more than her health – this time she could lose the thing she cares about most: her career.
In Plain Sight by Marion Todd
A child’s life is at stake. Which of the residents of St Andrews is hiding something – and why?
When a baby girl is snatched from the crowd of spectators at a fun run, the local police have a major investigation on their hands. DI Clare Mackay and her team are in a race against the clock when they learn that the child has a potentially fatal medical condition.
As Clare investigates she realises this victim wasn’t selected at random. Someone knows who took the baby girl, and why. But will they reveal their secrets before it’s too late?
Many Rivers to Cross by Peter Robinson
A skinny young boy is found dead – his body carelessly stuffed into wheelie bin.
Detective Superintendent Alan Banks and his team are called to investigate. Who is the boy, and where did he come from? Was he discarded as rubbish, or left as a warning to someone? He looks Middle Eastern, but no one on the East Side Estate has seen him before.
As the local press seize upon an illegal immigrant angle, and the national media the story of another stabbing, the police are called to investigate a less newsworthy death: a middle-aged heroin addict found dead of an overdose in another estate, scheduled for redevelopment.
Banks finds the threads of each case seem to be connected to the other, and to the dark side of organised crime in Eastvale. Does another thread link to his friend Zelda, who is facing her own dark side?
The truth may be more complex – or much simpler – than it seems . . .
All the Devils are Here by Louise Penny
On their first night in Paris, the Gamaches gather for a family dinner with Armand’s godfather, the billionaire Stephen Horowitz. But the evening ends in horror when Stephen is knocked down and critically injured in what Armand is convinced is no accident, but a deliberate attempt on an elderly man’s life.
When a strange key is found in Stephen’s possession it sends Armand on a desperate search for the truth that will take him from the top of the Tour Eiffel, to the bowels of the Paris Archives.
And as Armand begins to uncover the secrets his godfather has kept hidden for decades, he finds himself ensnared in a web of lies and deceit that threatens to destroy everything – and everyone – he holds dear.
For even the City of Light casts long shadows. And in that darkness devils hide . . .
The Girl at the Back of the Bus by Suzette D Harrison (due 8/2/21)
Montgomery, Alabama, 1955
On a cold December evening, Mattie Banks packs a suitcase and leaves her family home. Sixteen years old and pregnant, she has already made the mistake that will ruin her life and disgrace her widowed mother. Boarding the 2857 bus, she sits with her case on her lap, hoping that the driver will take her away from disaster. Instead, Mattie witnesses an act of bravery by a woman named Rosa Parks that changes everything. But as Mattie strives to turn her life around, the dangers that first led her to run are never far away. Forging a new life in a harsh world at constant risk of exposure, Mattie will need to fight to keep her baby safe.
Atlanta, Georgia, present day
Ashlee Turner is going home. Her relationship in ruins, her career held back by prejudice, she is returning to the family who have always been her rock. But Ashlee’s home is not the safe haven she remembers. Her beloved grandmother is dying and is determined to share her story before she leaves…
When Ashlee finds a stack of yellowing letters hidden in her nana’s closet, she can’t help the curiosity that compels her to read, and she uncovers an old secret that could wreak havoc on her already grieving family. As she tries to make sense of what she has learned, Ashlee faces a devastating choice: to protect her loved ones from the revelations, or honor her grandmother’s wishes and follow the path to the truth, no matter where it may lead.
Lost in Translation by Audrey Davis
Charlotte Egerton and family are off to Switzerland, after husband Dom bags a big-time job promotion.
But Charlotte isn’t exactly yodelling with delight at the prospect. Not since a chance discovery cast a shadow over her ten-year marriage. And navigating twisty Swiss roads and getting to grips with French only adds to her woes…
Following a bumpy encounter with an arrogant German, Charlotte is far from convinced the expat life is for her.
With doubts about Dom — and concerns for her best friend, Ruth — plaguing her mind, will Charlotte embrace the Swiss way of life, or are some mountains just too hard to conquer?
Embark on a journey filled with laughter, tears and lessons in love. Sometimes you just have to seize the day…
The Push by Claire McGowan (Capital Crime book sub)
One party. Thirteen people. By 3.02 p.m., one of them will be dead.
The party should have been perfect: six couples from the same baby group, six newborns, a luxurious house. But not everything has gone to plan, and while some are here to celebrate, others have sorrows to drown. When someone falls from the balcony of the house, the secrets and conflicts within the group begin to spill out …
DS Alison Hegarty, herself struggling with infertility, is called in to investigate. She’s convinced the fall was not an accident, and finds the new parents have a lot to hide. Wealthy Ed and Monica show off their newborn while their teenage daughter is kept under virtual house arrest. Hazel and Cathy conceived their longed-for baby via an anonymous sperm donor—or so Hazel thinks. Anita and Jeremy planned to adopt from America, but there’s no sign of the child. Kelly, whose violent boyfriend disrupted previous group sessions, came to the party even though she lost her baby. And then there’s Jax, who’s been experiencing strange incidents for months—almost like someone’s out to get her. Is it just a difficult pregnancy? Or could it be payback for something she did in the past?
It’s a nightmare of a case, and as events get even darker it begins to look impossible. Only one thing is clear: they all have something to hide. And for one of them, it’s murder.
The Creak on the Stairs by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir (Capital Crime book sub)
When a body of a woman is discovered at a lighthouse in the Icelandic town of Akranes, it soon becomes clear that she’s no stranger to the area.
Chief Investigating Officer Elma, who has returned to Akranes following a failed relationship, and her collegues Sævar and Hörður, commence an uneasy investigation, which uncovers a shocking secret in the dead woman’s past that continues to reverberate in the present day
But as Elma and her team make a series of discoveries, they bring to light a host of long-hidden crimes that shake the entire community. Sifting through the rubble of the townspeople’s shattered memories, they have to dodge increasingly serious threats, and find justice before it’s too late.
The Dirty Dozen by Lynda La Plante (NB Magazine book sub)
Jane Tennison has worked hard to become the first female detective ever post to the infamous Flying Squad, or ‘the Sweeney’. But the Dirty Dozen is a notorious boys’ club, and Jane’s new colleagues make it clear that they don’t think a woman is up to the dangers of the job.
Dealing with some of London’s most ruthless armed criminals, who think the only good cop is a dead cop, is no joke. Determined to prove she’s as good as the men, Jane discovers from a reliable witness that a gang is going to carry out a massive robbery.
But she doesn’t know who they are, or where and when they will strike . . .
Prize Wins and Gifts
The Running Wolf by Helen Steadman
When a Prussian smuggler is imprisoned in Morpeth Gaol in the winter of 1703, why does Queen Anne’s powerful right-hand man, The Earl of Nottingham, take such a keen interest?
At the end of the turbulent 17th century, the ties that bind men are fraying, turning neighbour against neighbour, friend against friend and brother against brother. Beneath a seething layer of religious intolerance, community suspicion and political intrigue, The Running Wolf takes us deep into the heart of rebel country in the run-up to the 1715 Jacobite uprising.
Hermann Mohll is a master sword maker from Solingen in Germany who risks his life by breaking his guild oaths and settling in England. While trying to save his family and neighbours from poverty, he is caught smuggling swords and finds himself in Morpeth Gaol facing charges of High Treason.
Determined to hold his tongue and his nerve, Mohll finds himself at the mercy of the corrupt keeper, Robert Tipstaff. The keeper fancies he can persuade the truth out of Mohll and make him face the ultimate justice: hanging, drawing and quartering. But in this tangled web of secrets and lies, just who is telling the truth?
The Boss by Caz Finlay
She’s running the family.
But now he’s back – only one can boss the streets of Liverpool.
HE’S OUT FOR BLOOD
After a stint inside, notorious gangster Nathan Conlon is back. He says he’s a changed man, but old habits die hard on Liverpool’s gritty streets. He’ll stop at nothing to reclaim his formidable criminal empire – and his long-suffering ex-wife, Grace.
SHE’S OUT FOR REVENGE
Grace once kissed the ground that Nathan walked on, but not anymore. She’s head of the firm now, commanding respect from the best of them, and she’ll do anything to protect her family – even if it means beating Nathan at the dirtiest of games . . .
WHO WILL COME OUT ON TOP?
Books I’ve read this month
The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor
A must read I loved this book!
Sixteen year-old Evie Epworth stands on the cusp of womanhood. But what kind of a woman will she become?
The fastest milk bottle-delivery girl in East Yorkshire, Evie is tall as a tree and hot as the desert sand. She dreams of an independent life lived under the bright lights of London (or Leeds). The two posters of Adam Faith on her bedroom wall (‘brooding Adam’ and ‘sophisticated Adam’) offer wise counsel about a future beyond rural East Yorkshire. Her role models are Charlotte Bronte, Shirley MacLaine and the Queen. But, before she can decide on a career, she must first deal with the malign presence of her future step-mother, the manipulative and money-grubbing Christine.
If Evie can rescue her bereaved father, Arthur, from Christine’s pink and over-perfumed clutches, and save the farmhouse from being sold off then maybe she can move on with her own life and finally work out exactly who it is she is meant to be.
Moving, inventive and richly comic, The Miseducation of Evie Epworth is the most joyful debut novel of the year and the best thing to have come out of Yorkshire since Wensleydale cheese.
The Little Christmas Kitchen by Jenny Oliver
Ella Davenport is turning her world upside down. She’s ditching her cheating ex, swapping Carnaby Street for Corfu and heading back to the bustling family restaurant of her childhood. but returning home won’t be as easy as she thought…
Meanwhile, her sister Maddy has always loved the quiet pace of island life but now she’s longing to escape. So when Ella arrives in Corfu, she jumps at the chance to trade places and soon she’s exploring the snowy streets of London in search of her own adventure.
But thousands of miles apart and struggling to adjust to their new lives, Ella and Maddy are about to find out that all they want for Christmas is each other…
Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Nights by Carole Matthews
Fay and Danny are madly in love and it’s all Fay’s ever dreamed of. But she left everything – including the delightful cake shop she used to run – to be with Danny on his cosy canal boat The Dreamcatcher. And as she soon finds out, making delicious cakes on the water isn’t always smooth sailing!
Then Fay gets a call that sends her back to where it all began; back to where she first met Danny, back to her friends and the Cake Shop in the Garden. Even as Fay happily returns to dry land and her passion for baking, she knows it will be hard being away from Danny, especially with Christmas round the corner. But their relationship is strong enough to survive . . . isn’t it?
Can Fay really get everything she ever wanted in Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Nights?
A Merry Little Christmas by Julia Williams
An absorbing novel about family, love and friendship from the bestselling author of Last Christmas.
With four children, a Christmas cookbook to write, and her mum suffering from dementia, Cat Tinsall has plenty to juggle. When her eldest daughter, Mel, starts going off the rails, Cat has even more on her plate.
Pippa Holliday adores her family, although often finds her hands full. When Dan is involved in a terrible accident, Pippa’s world is suddenly turned upside down.
Balancing her job as a school teacher with twins and her step-son Steven isn’t easy for Marianne North. With her husband’s ex causing trouble, life is getting even trickier.
As Cat, Pippa and Marianne help each other through a difficult year, they’re all hoping for a much brighter Christmas.
The Christmas Angel by Marcia Willett
As Christmas approaches, everything seems to be falling into place for Dossie. Her son Clem and his adorable four-year-old son Jakey have moved to Cornwall to be closer to her. She runs her own successful catering business. All she needs now is for the run of bad luck in her romantic life to end…
But while little Jakey helps to put away the decorations after another cosy Christmas surrounded by friends and family, an avaricious property developer starts prowling around. The Cornish home which he has known all his life is in danger of being sold up, and everything is changing.
Will this close-knit unit who so depend on each other still be together next Christmas? And what will they have learnt about having somewhere you truly belong?
With unforgettable characters, charming romance and plenty of warmth, The Christmas Angel is the perfect Christmas read.
Well that was my month, quite a good one on all fronts for me. Hope yours was as good.