Published this week – my fiction picks to 31st January, 2021

Just a reminder that I’ve not read any of these as I don’t have access to Advance Reader Copies. My choices are based on previous reads/purchases of a particular author and reads I like the look of from the blurb otherwise known as gut instinct. The choices are therefore geared towards what I would read. I’m sure some weeks you’re wondering why I’ve missed some big releases and that’s either because I’ve messed up and missed it or quite simply it’s not my cup of tea. Either way, there’s still plenty to choose from.

Index

The index is a guide as to what format the title is being released in. In some cases the title might already have been published in a different format. For those readers interested in audio editions I’ve made a note of availability in the title details. These categories are intended to give you an indication of price and/or suitablity depending on your preferred reading format. I have not complicated matters further by attempting to throw genres into the mix.

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

Hardback releases

Outlawed by Anna North (Audio Available)

In the year of our Lord 1894, I became an outlaw.

On the day of her wedding-dance, Ada feels lucky. She loves her broad-shouldered, bashful husband and her job as an apprentice midwife.

But her luck will not last. It is every woman’s duty to have a child, to replace those that were lost in the Great Flu. And after a year of marriage and no pregnancy, in a town where barren women are hanged as witches, Ada’s survival depends on leaving behind everything she knows.

She joins up with the notorious Hole in the Wall Gang. Its leader, a charismatic preacher-turned-robber, known to all as The Kid, wants to create a safe haven for women outcast from society. But to make this dream a reality, the Gang hatches a treacherous plan. And Ada must decide whether she’s willing to risk her life for the possibility of a new kind of future for them all.


The Garden of Angels by David Hewson (Audio Available)

At his beloved Nonno Paolo’s deathbed, fifteen-year-old Nico receives a gift that will change his life forever: a yellowing manuscript which tells the haunting, twisty tale of what really happened to his grandfather in Nazi-occupied Venice in 1943.

The Palazzo Colombina is home to the Uccello family: three generations of men, trapped together in the dusty palace on Venice’s Grand Canal. Awkward fifteen-year-old Nico. His distant, business-focused father. And his beloved grandfather, Paolo. Paolo is dying. But before he passes, he has secrets he’s waited his whole life to share.

When a Jewish classmate is attacked by bullies, Nico just watches – earning him a week’s suspension and a typed, yellowing manuscript from his frail Nonno Paolo. A history lesson, his grandfather says. A secret he must keep from his father. A tale of blood and madness . . .

Nico is transported back to the Venice of 1943, an occupied city seething under its Nazi overlords, and to the defining moment of his grandfather’s life: when Paolo’s support for a murdered Jewish woman brings him into the sights of the city’s underground resistance. Hooked and unsettled, Nico can’t stop reading – but he soon wonders if he ever knew his beloved grandfather at all.


On an Outgoing Tide by Caro Ramsay

Two murders, forty years apart. What links them? Detectives Anderson & Costello undertake their most baffling investigation to date.

The body is found in the early hours of the morning, drifting lifelessly on the outgoing tide. Twenty-three-year-old medical student Aasha Ariti had been enjoying a night out to celebrate the end of lockdown. Anthony Poole, the last person to have seen her alive, is the prime suspect.

Before detectives Anderson and Costello can make further headway, they are pulled off the case to investigate the murder of a pensioner in his own home. The body of eighty-one-year-old Jimmy Pearcey reveals evidence of prolonged, excruciating torture in the hours before he died. Of one thing DCI Anderson is certain: this killing was very close and very personal. But the victim was a loner, without friends or relatives.

As they dig deeper however, the two detectives uncover a number of secrets in the dead man’s past. Secrets that link to another murder more than forty years before. What really happened on 21st June 1978? Someone is determined to ensure that Anderson and Costello never find out. Whatever it takes .


Hardback & eBook releases

Sophomores by Sean Desmond (Audio Available)

It’s fall 1987 and life as normal is ending for the Malone family. With their sterile Dallas community a far cry from the Irish-American Bronx of their youth, Pat and Anne Malone have reached a breaking point. Pat, faced with a debilitating MS diagnosis, has fallen into his drinking. Anne, his devoutly Catholic wife, is selected as a juror for a highly publicised murder trial, one that raises questions – about God, and about men in power – she has buried her entire life. Together, they try to raise their only son, Daniel, a bright but unmotivated student who is shocked into actual learning by an enigmatic English teacher. For once, Dan is unable to fly under the radar, and is finally asked to consider what he might want to make of his life. With humour and tenderness, Sophomores brilliantly captures the enduring poignancy of coming of age, teenage epiphanies and heartbreak, and family redemption.


A Crooked Tree by Una Mannion (Audio Available)

A Crooked Tree by [Una Mannion]

Rage. That’s the feeling engulfing the car as Ellen’s mother swerves over to the hard-shoulder and orders her daughter out onto the roadside. Ignoring the protests of her other children, she accelerates away, leaving Ellen standing on the gravel verge in her school pinafore and knee socks as the light fades.

What would you do as you watch your little sister getting smaller in the rear view window? How far would you be willing to go to help her? The Gallagher children are going to find out. This moment is the beginning of a summer that will change everything.


Mrs Death Misses Death by Salena Godden (Audio Available)

Mrs Death has had enough. She is exhausted from spending eternity doing her job and now she seeks someone to unburden her conscience to. Wolf Willeford, a troubled young writer, is well acquainted with death, but until now hadn’t met Death in person – a black, working-class woman who shape-shifts and does her work unseen.

Enthralled by her stories, Wolf becomes Mrs Death’s scribe, and begins to write her memoirs. Using their desk as a vessel and conduit, Wolf travels across time and place with Mrs Death to witness deaths of past and present and discuss what the future holds for humanity. As the two reflect on the losses they have experienced – or, in the case of Mrs Death, facilitated – their friendship grows into a surprising affirmation of hope, resilience and love. All the while, despite her world-weariness, Death must continue to hold humans’ fates in her hands, appearing in our lives when we least expect her . . .


The Unstable Boys by Nick Kent

London 1968:
The Unstable Boys are the name on every music insider’s lips and tipped to follow in the footsteps of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. This is their chance to hit the bigtime. They don’t know they’re about to be obliterated by a series of tragedies and a chaotic breakup that puts paid to the band’s starry-eyed dreams of stratospheric success. One day you’re the dog’s bollocks; the next day you’re a nobody – fame is a fickle friend.

London 2016:
Bestselling crime writer Michael Martindale has reached breaking point. Estranged from his wife and children following the very public fallout of his disastrous affair, he is alone, with only his self-pity to keep him warm at night. Until he makes the mistake of publicly declaring his admiration for his teenage musical obsession, the Unstable Boys. When the band’s twisted and feral frontman, the Boy, turns up on his doorstep, Martindale quickly learns that sometimes you should be careful what you wish for.


Paperback releases

The Conways at Earthsend by Jane Deans

Every day is a battle for Joshua and Laura Conway. From devastating weather ravaging their farm and takeover threats from the energy company to the disappearance of a loved one; from pollution to the savage killing of an employee, their world spirals into an uncontrollable crisis.

Can they trust their mysterious new neighbour, Uzza? And can she help them to survive as everything they’ve worked for begins to disintegrate and everyone they love is under threat?

Disturbing and poignant, The Conways at Earthsend reveals a near future that all of us may come to know.


My Usual Table by Charles Lander

Customers with their usual table at a restaurant have more than their fair share of problems. The manager Leo can help. These interconnecting stories, clever and intriguing, follow the fortunes of the customers and how they and their families react to the issues they face.

A father who dies leaving a dysfunctional family with a problem they alone can solve – will they find the right solution?

An overzealous lifestyle guru and his long-suffering wife – how can she cope with him?

A husband with financial problems wanting to sell a valuable work of art without his family knowing – can he find a way to do it?

These and other stories are told with warmth and humour, all from the author’s experience as a lawyer advising families on their personal dilemmas. The stories often reveal what happens if the past is allowed to dictate to the present.


The Ordinary Life of Nadia Lewis by Naomi Lane

This is a tale of trials and tribulations of lifelong friendship. Two girls meet when Susan’s family moved into the road where Nadia lived. The two youngsters hit it off straight away and became an inseparable force to be reckoned with, not least on the school playground. The story begins by reminiscing about their school days and childhoods; imaginative games at the shopping centre, writing books together, re-enacting comedy sketches. They danced to music and swooned over popstars. They drifted apart slightly when they joined different social groups, but they remained friends throughout their teenage years experiencing all the things typical teenagers go through. When they turned eighteen, they went their separate ways – Nadia to university, Susan quickly moved out after deciding that staying at home was too boring. Life moved on and the girls grew up and started doing ‘adult things’: moving in with long-term partners, working full-time, getting married and having children. But as everyone knows, adult life is not always smooth sailing.


Coming Up for Air by Sarah Leipciger (Audio Available)

Coming Up for Air: A remarkable true story richly reimagined by [Sarah Leipciger]

On the banks of the River Seine in 1899, a young woman takes her final breath before plunging into the icy water. Although she does not know it, her decision will set in motion an astonishing chain of events. It will lead to 1950s Norway, where a grieving toy-maker is on the cusp of a transformative invention, all the way to present-day Canada where a journalist, battling a terrible disease, risks everything for one last chance to live.


Weather by Jenny Offhill (Audio Available)

An obligatory note of hope, in a world going to hell

‘What are you afraid of, he asks me and the answer of course is dentistry, humiliation, scarcity, then he says what are your most useful skills? People think I’m funny’

Lizzie Benson, a part-time librarian, is already overwhelmed with the crises of daily life when an old mentor offers her a job answering mail from the listeners of her apocalyptic podcast, Hell and High Water. Soon questions begin pouring in from left-wingers worried about climate change and right-wingers worried about the decline of Western civilization. Entering this polarized world, Lizzie is forced to consider who she is and what she can do to help: as a mother, as a wife, as a sister, and as a citizen of this doomed planet.


Keeper of Secrets by Lynda Stacey (Audio Available)

Deadly Secrets Lie Beneath the Surface …

For as long as Cassie Hunt can remember her Aunt Aggie has spoken about the forgotten world that exists just below their feet, in the tunnels and catacombs of the Sand House.

When excavation work begins on the site shocking secrets are uncovered and danger is never far away, both above and below ground …


Bride of the Sea by Eman Quotah

During a snowy Cleveland February, newlywed university students Muneer and Saeedah are expecting their first child, and he is harboring a secret: the word divorce is whispering in his ear. Soon, their marriage will end, and Muneer will return to Saudi Arabia, while Saeedah remains in Cleveland with their daughter, Hanadi. Consumed by a growing fear of losing her daughter, Saeedah disappears with the little girl, leaving Muneer to desperately search for his daughter for years. The repercussions of the abduction ripple outward, not only changing the lives of Hanadi and her parents, but also their interwoven family and friends–those who must choose sides and hide their own deeply guarded secrets.

And when Hanadi comes of age, she finds herself at the center of this conflict, torn between the world she grew up in and a family across the ocean. How can she exist between parents, between countries?

Paperback & eBook releases

My Mother’s Secret by Julia Roberts (Audio Available)

‘They told me he died, but I never believed them. I’d have known,’ she says, her voice little more than a whisper and her eyes searching mine. ‘A mother would know if her child died, wouldn’t she?’

The phone call comes in the middle of the night, rousing Danni from her safe, warm bed. The police have found her mother Diana wandering along the main road, miles from her house, confused and lost.

Danni races to her mother’s side, but when she arrives, as always, her mother doesn’t seem to care. ‘Go away, Danni,’ she says. ‘I don’t want you.’

When she was a child, Danni would lie awake at night wondering what she had done to make her mother so cold. Now she is determined to put the past behind them and make Diana as happy as she can in the time they have left.

But as some of Diana’s memories are slipping away, others are forcing their way to the surface. One night Diana breaks down in tears and reveals her heartbreaking secret. Years before Danni was born, there was another baby who never got to see the world. Now there is one last thing Danni can do for her mother. She will find her brother’s resting place, and bring Diana some peace.

But good intentions can have unexpected consequences, and soon Danni’s life will be changed forever. Are some secrets best left buried?


If I Disappear by Eliza Jane Brazier (Audio Available)

A small town. A missing woman. A mystery that needs solving . . .

Sera loves true crime podcasts. The mysteries become an unlikely comfort for her, and then an obsession.

So when Rachel, her favourite podcast host, goes missing from a small rural town in Northern California, Sera decides to act. She heads to the isolated ranch where Rachel disappeared, determined to discover what’s happened to her.

But the more Sera digs into this unfamiliar world, the more off things start to feel.

Because Rachel is not the first woman to vanish from the ranch, and she won’t be the last . . .

Rachel did try to warn her.


Evil Impulse by Leigh Russell

Living with her colleague and long time love interest, Detective Inspector Ian Peterson, it seems that Geraldine Steel has finally found happiness. But life is never that simple.

As a psychopath starts killing random women on the streets of York, Geraldine is abducted by a drugs syndicate who have been threatening her sister. Geraldine has everything to fight for, and her life is on the line…


Bolt from the Blue by Jeremy Cooper

Bolt from the Blue by [Jeremy Cooper]

In Bolt from the Blue, Jeremy Cooper, the winner of the 2018 Fitzcarraldo Editions Novel Prize, charts the relationship between a mother and daughter over the course of thirty-odd years. In October 1985, Lynn moves down to London to enroll at Saint Martin’s School of Art, leaving her mother behind in a suburb of Birmingham. Their relationship is complicated, and their only form of contact is through the letters, postcards and emails they send each other periodically, while Lynn slowly makes her mark on the London art scene. A novel in epistolary form, Bolt from the Blue captures the waxing and waning of the mother-daugher relationship over time, achieving a rare depth of feeling with a deceptively simple literary form.


The Lost Mother by Catherine Hokin (Audio Available)

The Lost Mother: A beautiful and heartbreaking World War 2 historical novel by [Catherine Hokin]

She looked at the empty cradle where her baby had been. Her heart felt tattered and empty, like the hollow streets of Berlin after its people began to live in fear.

Berlin, 1934. Homes once filled with laughter stand empty as the Nazi party’s grip on the city tightens. When AnnaTiegel’s beautiful best friend catches Reich Minister Goebbels’ special attention, an impulsive act to save her brings Anna under his unforgiving scrutiny. First, she loses her job, then slowly, mercilessly, she finds her life stripped away. After her father is killed by the Nazis, Anna’s final hope is to escape to America with her boyfriend Eddy, but when she reaches his apartment on the agreed date, she finds it deserted. Alone and pregnant, the future feels terrifying, but she must try to protect the life inside her.

Rhode Island, 1957. Peggy Bailey stares in shock at the faded photograph of two laughing women which her beloved adoptive mother struggled to pass on to her before she died, whispering ‘It was inside your baby blanket when we brought you home’. As Peggy continues to stare, she realises that she has seen one of the girls before, in the most unlikely of places… Bursting at the realisation, she embarks on a mission which takes her across America to find the truth behind her heritage. Nothing, however, could prepare her for the tragic story her actions uncover…


Before You Were Gone by Sheila Bugler

The truth can’t stay buried forever…

Emer Doran‘s life was torn apart when her sister, Kitty, drowned. Her body was never recovered. Twenty years later, Emer sees a woman who is the image of Kitty. In that brief moment, Emer is convinced – her sister is alive.

Dee Doran jumps at the chance to get to know her long-lost cousin when Emer calls asking to meet. But it is not the happy family reunion Dee had expected. Emer is desperate for Dee’s help to find out what really happened to Kitty.

As Dee works to uncover the truth, one thing becomes clear: there is a tangled web of lies that date back many years. And those with the answers are determined to keep their secrets at any cost.


Before She Wakes by Ed James (Audio Available)

Before She Wakes: An absolutely unputdownable gripping crime thriller by [Ed James]

She opens her eyes and focuses on the room around her. Everything is in place, yet something isn’t right. She walks towards her daughter’s room, calling her name, as she does every morning. But this morning is different. This morning there is no response. Marissa’s daughter has vanished.

Single mother Marissa stands in her daughter’s untidy room. Olivia’s phone is still charging at the wall and her clothes are still hanging in her closet. The mirror above her daughter’s desk is cracked and a message written in red ink reads ‘Never Forget’.

When the investigation into Olivia’s disappearance makes local headlines, people begin to gossip about the missing teenager and it soon becomes clear she had been lying to her mother for a long time. Not only did she have a secret boyfriend, but she had also been talking to her guidance counsellor constantly in the weeks before she disappeared. What was so big that Olivia couldn’t tell?

And when a blood test reveals that Marissa was drugged the night Olivia went missing, fingers point at Marissa’s estranged husband, but he too has vanished without trace. Could a long-buried family secret have put the teenager’s life in danger? And will the truth be revealed before it’s too late for the missing girl?


Captain Jesus by Colette Snowden

Captain Jesus by [Colette Snowden]

When three brothers find a dead magpie and peg it to the washing line, the resurrection re-enactment becomes a portent of tragedy to come, and a reminder of past guilt and trauma. In Captain Jesus we see a family struggle to cope as loss rips through their lives; through the teenage eyes of their mother, twenty years earlier, we glimpse the events that shape her response. The icons, influences and family histories that define faith connect the two narratives as the family gradually heals, thanks to the quietness of love and the natural world.

eBook releases

Our Gated Community by G R Jordan

Our Gated Community: A Highlands and Islands Detective Thriller (Highlands & Islands Detective Book 10) by [G R Jordan]

A remote island community starts its new life. A dead body leads to locked doors and closed mouths. Can Macleod and McGrath find the killer hell bent on destroying paradise?

Leaving behind the city of Inverness, Seoras and Hope travel to the fledgling paradise of Morning Light to investigate a body found in the idyllic town square. When the Mayor tries to run roughshod over Macleod’s investigation, the determined pair find a wall of silence and an underlying current of deceit and mistrust. Can Macleod find who controls the villagers’ tongues before more permanent measures are taken against those who speak out?

A generous dose of fear is the key to a happy town!


The Price of Two Sparrows by Christy Collins (Audio Available)

The Price of Two Sparrows by [Christy Collins]

Heico is an ornithologist fighting a losing battle to protect the birds in his beachside suburb. When a journalist asks for comment on a planned development, Heico exaggerates his reports on how many migratory birds use the site. Soon it is revealed that the proposed building is a mosque, and he finds himself embroiled in community resistance to the project. Still, he refuses to back down. As the delayed mosque project becomes a focal point for growing Islamophobia, Heico must confront his own ghosts, and the prejudices he insists he doesn’t have.
Nahla is Heico’s house cleaner. Having recently arrived in Australia she is trying to find her place in a new country and a new marriage. Isolated and lonely, she sees the mosque as a symbol of what she hopes to find in Australia: community, familiarity, acceptance. But as resistance to the project intensifies, she must summon the courage and the language to speak out and claim her space in this new life.


Before I Saw You by Emily Houghton

Before I Saw You: The delightful and emotional love-story of 2021 by [Emily Houghton]

CAN YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE YOU’VE NEVER SEEN?

Alice and Alfie are strangers. But they sleep next to each other every night.

Alfie Mack has been in hospital for months recovering from an accident. A new face on the ward is about as exciting as life gets for him right now, so when someone moves into the bed next to him he’s eager to make friends. But it quickly becomes clear that seeing his neighbour’s face won’t happen any time soon.

Alice Gunnersley has been badly burned and can’t even look at herself yet, let alone allow anyone else to see her. She keeps the curtain around her bed firmly closed, but it doesn’t stop Alfie trying to get to know her. And gradually, as he slowly brings Alice out of her shell, might there even be potential for more?


One by One by Helen Bridgett

One by One: This gripping, well-crafted thriller will have you completely absorbed! by [Helen Bridgett]

When practising what you preach is easier said than done …
Professor Maxie Reddick has her reasons for being sceptical of traditional policing methods, but, in between her criminology lecturing job and her Criminal Thoughts podcast, she stays firmly on the side lines of the crime solving world.
Then a young woman is brutally attacked, and suddenly it’s essential that Maxie turns her words into actions; this is no longer an academic exercise – this is somebody’s life.
But as she delves deeper, the case takes a sickening turn, which leads Maxie to the horrifying realisation that the attack might not have been a one-off. It seems there’s a depraved individual out there seeking revenge, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it … little by little … one by one.


Dublin’s Girl by Eimear Lawlor

Dublin's Girl by [Eimear Lawlor]

Falling in love with the enemy is the ultimate act of betrayal…

1917. A farm girl from Cavan, Veronica McDermott is desperate to find more to life than peeling potatoes. Persuading her family to let her stay with her aunt and uncle in Dublin so she can attend secretarial college, she has no idea what she is getting into. Recruited by Fr Michael O’Flanagan to type for Eamon De Valera, Veronica is soon caught up in the danger and intrigue of those fighing for Ireland’s independence from Britain.

The attentions of a handsome British soldier, Major Harry Fairfax, do not go unnoticed by Veronica’s superiors. But when Veronica is tasked with earning his affections to gather intelligence for Sinn Féin, it isn’t long before her loyalty to her countrymen and her feelings for Harry are in conflict. To choose one is to betray the other…


Dark Memories by Liz Mistry

Dark Memories: An addictive and nail-biting crime thriller packed with suspense (Detective Nikki Parekh, Book 3) by [Liz Mistry]

THREE LETTERS. THREE MURDERS. THE CLOCK IS TICKING…

When the body of a homeless woman is found under Bradford’s railway arches, DS Nikki Parekh and her trusty partner DC Sajid Malik are on the case.

With little evidence, it’s impossible to make a breakthrough, and when Nikki receives a newspaper clipping taunting her about her lack of progress in catching the killer, she wonders if she has a personal link to the case.

When another seemingly unrelated body is discovered, Nikki receives another note. Someone is clearly trying to send her clues… but who?

And then a third body is found.

This time on Nikki’s old street, opposite the house she used to live in as a child. And there’s another message… underneath the victim’s body.

With nothing but the notes to connect the murders, Nikki must revisit the traumatic events of her childhood to work out her connection to the investigation.

But some memories are best left forgotten, and it’s going to take all Nikki’s inner strength to catch the killer…

Before they strike again.


Can You See Me Now? by Trisha Sakhlecha

Can You See Me Now? by [Trisha Sakhlecha]

Fifteen years ago, three sixteen-year-old girls meet at Wescott, an exclusive private school in India.
Two, Sabah and Noor, are the most popular girls in their year. One, Alia, is a new arrival from England, who feels her happiness depends on their acceptance.

Before she knows it, Sabah and Noor’s intoxicating world of privilege and intimacy opens up to Alia and, for the first time, after years of neglect from her parents, she feels she is exactly where, and with whom, she belongs.

But with intimacy comes jealousy, and with privilege, resentment, and Alia finds that it only takes one night for her bright new world to shatter around her.

Now Alia, a cabinet minister in the Indian government, is about to find her secrets have no intention of staying buried . . .


That’s it for another week, hope you found something you liked?

Happy Reading!!

4 comments

  1. As always, I love the sound of some of these but as I say so often – too many books and not enough time (even though I read loads). Love the sound of ‘My usual table’ so I will very likely be adding that to my collection of those waiting to be read. Why so I just keep adding more?
    My apologies Jill, I read your comment on my recent post and instead of pressing ‘Like@ I somehow deleted it 😦 I’m trying to work out a way of retrieving it but no luck so far.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I usually wait until they’re on offer for Kindle at least then if it doesn’t get read it hasn’t cost much. I no longer worry too much about buying more than I’ll read. Essentially I view buying books as my hobby and in the scheme of things, it’s a pretty cheap hobby. Re deleting comments, I do it quite often. If you’re with WordPress go to My Site and choose comments. Go into trash and you can then resurrect the comment by approving it.

      Liked by 1 person

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