As mentioned previously, the ‘Kindle Monthly Sale’ has been subsumed into their generic Kindle offers, consequently there is no designated ‘Monthly’ sale as we used to know it. What we now have is a variety of different ‘offers’ bundled together.
I’ve decided to still feature a monthly offers post but will try and be more selective. I’ll continue to concentrate on more recent titles (within last year or s, largely on the assumption that the longer a book has been around it more likely to have hit your radar already. Where I’ve been selective is that I’m only including my top picks rather than including ALL the books I’ve bought, read or would read. This will hopefully help to focus my mind! That said I’ll still throw in a few golden oldies that I’ve read and love. As ever, it’s a list that’s skewed towards my prevailing reading tastes so feel free to look at the complete list on Amazon here.
What I will also do over the course of the month is post additional titles over on my Facebook page here . These will be titles which on the whole are less recent but well worth a look.
Genres have been allocated by me and have been generously applied especially as some books are a mix of genres. I don’t like to pigeon hole but it helps to give the post a bit more structure.
(NB As an Amazon Associate, Bookshop and Hive Affiliate I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases)
Crime, Thriller & Mystery
The Suspect by Fiona Barton
‘The police belonged to another world – the world they saw on the television or in the papers. Not theirs.’
When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing on their gap year in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft and frantic with worry.
Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth – and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, who she hasn’t seen in two years, since he left home to go travelling. This time it’s personal.
And as the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think . . .
Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce
Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…
Just one more night. Then I’ll end it.
Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle.
I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up.
Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself.
I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing.
But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….
The Body in the Castle Well by Martin Walker
A missing art student. An international investigation. A secret that will shatter Bruno’s charming village of St Denis.
A rich American art student is found dead at the bottom of a well in an ancient hilltop castle. The young woman, Claudia, had been working in the archives of an eminent French art historian, a crippled Resistance war hero, at his art-filled chateau.
As Claudia’s White House connections get the US Embassy and the FBI involved, Bruno traces the people and events that led to her fatal accident – or was it murder?
Bruno learns that Claudia had been trying to buy the chateau and art collection of her tutor, even while her researches led her to suspect that some of his attributions may have been forged. This takes Bruno down a trail that leads him from the ruins of Berlin in 1945, to France’s colonial war in Algeria.
The long arm of French history has reached out to find a new victim, but can Bruno identify the killer – and prove his case?
Dark Memories 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.
Ask no Questions by Claire Allan
Not all secrets are meant to come out…
Twenty-five years ago, on Halloween night, eight-year-old Kelly Doherty went missing while out trick or treating with friends.
Her body was found three days later, floating face down, on the banks of the Creggan Reservoir by two of her young classmates.
It was a crime that rocked Derry to the core. Journalist Ingrid Devlin is investigating – but someone doesn’t want her to know the truth. As she digs further, Ingrid starts to realise that the Doherty family are not as they seem. But will she expose what really happened that night before it’s too late?
The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood
To solve an impossible murder, you need an impossible hero…
Judith Potts is seventy-seven years old and blissfully happy. She lives on her own in a faded mansion just outside Marlow, there’s no man in her life to tell her what to do or how much whisky to drink, and to keep herself busy she sets crosswords for The Times newspaper.
One evening, while out swimming in the Thames, Judith witnesses a brutal murder. The local police don’t believe her story, so she decides to investigate for herself, and is soon joined in her quest by Suzie, a salt-of-the-earth dog-walker, and Becks, the prim and proper wife of the local Vicar.
Together, they are the Marlow Murder Club.
When another body turns up, they realise they have a real-life serial killer on their hands. And the puzzle they set out to solve has become a trap from which they might never escape…
Devil’s Garden by Aline Templeton
When DCI Kelso Strang hears that an old friend from Police College days suspects there is corruption in her local station at Halliburgh in the Borders of Scotland, he sends her down undercover so they can act before a major scandal erupts.
Anna Harper’s brilliant literary novels are international best-sellers. Her friend and housekeeper Marta Morelli ensures that her private and professional life run smoothly and Anna, acclaimed, rich and elegant, has everything a hugely successful woman could want – except peace of mind. They both live with the knowledge of what they have done and the gnawing worry that one day it might come to light.
When Anna’s son, Felix, dies of an overdose that may well have been a mistake and her daughter, Cassandra, has an accident that may well have been just that, she refuses to accept reassurance from the police. Just as the situation becomes critical, the Beast from the East roars in bringing chaos and Strang – engaged now in a life-or-death struggle – can do nothing but rage and wait for the thaw.
Down Among the Dead by Damien Boyd
When a badly decomposed body is discovered during an archaeological dig on the Sedgemoor battlefield, Avon and Somerset police are notified immediately. The remains are recent, and Detective Chief Inspector Peter Lewis knows exactly who they have found.
A single stab wound from a curved blade implicates convicted serial killer Daniel Parker, who Lewis arrested fifteen years ago.
With Parker’s appeal hearing imminent, Lewis comes under intense pressure to pin this new murder on him quickly and quietly. It’s an open and shut case—and Lewis should know—so why then does he insist on assigning it to DI Nick Dixon?
As Dixon starts to re-examine the original investigation, shocking revelations come in from the forensics team. And just as Dixon’s worst fears begin to surface, another body is found…
The Three Women by Valerie Keogh
How well do you know your friends?
When Beth, Megan and Joanne meet at university, they become inseparable friends who’d do anything for one another — even agreeing to keep what happens one shocking night a secret.
Now in their forties and outwardly successful, each of the three has dealt with what happened in their own way. But secrets and lies leave their mark.
When Megan decides to tell her fiancée the truth about that night, it threatens to ruin the lives of everyone around her.
And someone is prepared to do anything to stop that happening…
Lost You by Haylen
You’re looking for your son. But she found him first.
When a little boy goes missing, his mother desperately wants to find him . . . before someone else does.
Libby would do anything for her three-year-old son Ethan. And after all they’ve been through, a holiday seems the perfect antidote for them both. Their hotel is peaceful, safe and friendly, yet Libby can’t help feeling that someone is watching her. Watching Ethan. Because, for years, Libby has lived with a secret.
Just days into their holiday, when Libby is starting to relax, Ethan steps into an elevator on his own, and the doors close before Libby can stop them. Moments later, Ethan is gone.
Libby thought she had been through the worst, but her nightmare is only just beginning. And in a desperate hunt for her son, it becomes clear she’s not the only one looking for him.
Who will find him first?
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 . . .
The Other Wife by Claire McGowan
She’s a total stranger. But she knows who you are…
Suzi did a bad thing. She’s paying for it now, pregnant, scared, and living in an isolated cottage with her jealous husband, Nick.
When Nora moves into the only house nearby, Suzi is delighted to have a friend. So much so that she’s almost tempted to tell Nora her terrible secret. But there’s more to Nora than meets the eye. It’s impossible—does she already know what Suzi did?
Meanwhile, Elle spends her days in her perfect home, fixated on keeping up appearances. But when her husband betrays her, it unravels a secret going all the way back to her childhood. She’ll do whatever it takes to hold on to him, even if that means murder. After all, she’s done it before…
Caught up in their own secrets and lies, these strangers will soon realise they have more in common than they could ever have imagined. When a shocking event brings them together, their lives will never be the same again.
A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh
Golden Cove was a peaceful town.
Then one fateful summer a tragedy shattered the trust holding the community together. All that’s left are whispers behind closed doors, broken friendships and a silent agreement to never look back. But you can’t run from the past forever.
Eight years later, a young woman disappears without a trace, and the residents of Golden Cove wonder if their home shelters something far more dangerous than an unforgiving landscape.
The town’s dark past and haunted present are about to collide . . . in a murder mystery that’s been years in the making.
Feel Good Fiction & Romance
Life and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor
Three letters. Two mistakes. One Last chance.
When Jennifer Cole is told she has three months to live she decides to write three letters sharing the desires, fears and frustrations she has always kept to herself. And at first she finds that telling the truth makes her feel free and liberated.
But three months later, Jennifer’s secrets are alive and out in the world . . . and so is she. As she discovers, sometimes the truth has a way of surprising you . . .
Where we Belong by Anstey Harris
One family learning to love again.
Cate Morris and her son, Leo, are homeless, adrift. They’ve packed up the boxes from their London home, said goodbye to friends and colleagues, and now they are on their way to ‘Hatters Museum of the Wide Wide World – to stay just for the summer. Cate doesn’t want to be there, in Richard’s family home without Richard to guide her any more. And she knows for sure that Araminta, the retainer of the collection of dusty objects and stuffed animals, has taken against them. But they have nowhere else to go. They have to make the best of it.
But Richard hasn’t told Cate the truth about his family’s history. And something about the house starts to work its way under her skin.
Can she really walk away, once she knows the truth?
Family for Beginners by Sarah Morgan
Who says you can’t choose your family?
When Flora falls in love with Jack, suddenly she’s not only handling a very cranky teenager, but she’s also living in the shadow of Jack’s perfect, immortalised wife, Becca. Every summer, Becca and Jack would holiday with Becca’s oldest friends and Jack wants to continue the tradition, so now Flora must face a summer trying to live up to Becca’s memory, with not only Jack’s daughter looking on, but with Becca’s best friends judging her every move…
The more Flora tries to impress everyone, the more things go horribly wrong…but as the summer unfolds, Flora begins pushing her own boundaries, and finding herself in a way that she never thought she needed to.
And she soon learns that families come in all shapes and sizes.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
When Harold Fry nips out one morning to post a letter, leaving his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other.
He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof or mobile phone. All he knows is that he must keep walking. To save someone else’s life.
Harold Fry is the most ordinary of men. He just might be a hero for us all.
The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris
Grace Atherton, a talented cellist, is in love with David. Together in their apartment in Paris, Grace and David are happy until an unexpected event changes everything.
Nadia is seventeen and furious. She knows that love will only let her down: if she is going to succeed it will be on her own terms.
At eighty-six Maurice Williams has discovered a lot about love in his long life, and even more about people. And yet he keeps secrets.
When Grace’s life falls apart in the most shocking of ways Maurice and Nadia come to her rescue, helping her to find happiness and hope through the healing power of friendship.
Ellie and the Harp Maker by Hazel Prior
Sometimes it takes a chance encounter to discover what happiness really is . . .
Meet Dan: Dan needs peace and order. He likes perfectly triangular sandwiches, the way coffee smells of sunshine and harvest, and the sound of birdsong that drifts into his harp-making workshop on Exmoor. His life is quiet, predictable, and safe from any danger of surprises.
Meet Ellie: Ellie is a dreamer. But recently Ellie has stopped dreaming and her world has become very small. Her days are spent keeping a perfect home for her husband, Clive, and trying to keep him happy.
When Ellie stumbles across Dan’s workshop, they cannot imagine that their lives are about to change forever…
A Springtime to Remember by Lucy Coleman
Paris and the Palace of Versailles have always meant a lot to TV producer Lexie. Her grandma Viv spent a year there, but her adventures and memories were never discussed, and Lexie has long wondered why they were a family secret.
When work presents the perfect excuse to spend Springtime in Versailles, Lexie delves into Viv’s old diaries and scrapbooks, and with the help of handsome interpreter Ronan, she is soon learning more about the characters
that tend to the magnificent gardens, now and in the past.
In amongst the beauty and splendour of the French countryside, a story of lost love, rivalry and tragedy unfolds. Can Lexie and Ronan right the wrongs of the past, and will France play its tricks on them both before Lexie has to go home? Will this truly be a Springtime to Remember…?
Saturdays at Noon by Rachel Marks
EMILY JUST WANTS TO KEEP THE WORLD AWAY.
After getting into trouble yet again, she’s agreed to attend anger management classes. But she refuses to share her deepest secrets with a room full of strangers.
JAKE JUST WANTS TO KEEP HIS FAMILY TOGETHER.
He’ll do anything to save his marriage and bond with his six-year-old son, Alfie. But when he’s paired with spiky Emily, he wonders whether opening up will do more harm than good.
The two of them couldn’t be more different. Yet when Alfie, who never likes strangers, meets Emily, something extraordinary happens.
COULD ONE SMALL BOY CHANGE EVERYTHING?
A Good Neighbourhood by Therese Anne Fowler
In Oak Knoll, a tight-knit North Carolina neighbourhood, professor of forestry and ecology Valerie Alston-Holt is raising her bright and talented biracial son. All is well until the Whitmans move in next door – an apparently traditional family with new money, ambition, and a secretly troubled teenage daughter.
With little in common except a property line, these two very different families quickly find themselves at odds over an historic oak tree in Valerie’s yard.
But as they fight, they fail to notice that there is a romance blossoming between their two teenagers. A romance that will challenge the carefully constructed concepts of class and race in this small community. A romance that might cause everything to shatter…
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?
Doggerland by Ben Smith
‘His father’s breath had been loud in the small room. It had smelled smoky, or maybe more like dust. He had knotted and unknotted a strap on the bag he was holding – he must have been leaving to go out to the farm that day. ‘I’ll get out,’ he’d said. ‘I’ll come back for you, ok?’ The boy remembered that; had always remembered it. And, for a time, he’d believed it too.’
In the North Sea, far from what remains of the coastline, a wind farm stretches for thousands of acres.
The Boy, who is no longer really a boy, and the Old Man, whose age is unguessable, are charged with its maintenance. They carry out their never-ending work, scoured by wind and salt, as the waves roll, dragging strange shoals of flotsam through the turbine fields. Land is only a memory.
So too is the Boy’s father, who worked on the turbines before him, and disappeared. The boy has been sent by the Company to take his place, but the question of where he went and why is one for which the Old Man will give no answer.
As his companion dredges the sea for lost things, the Boy sifts for the truth of his missing father. Until one day, from the limitless water, a plan for escape emerges…
This beautifully crafted novel about loneliness and hope, nature and survival, is as haunting as it is compelling – a very special debut indeed.
A Promise of Ankles by Alexander McCall Smith
The winds of change are blowing through Scotland Street. Though Bertie is getting older, he can’t resist an adventure to escape his domineering mother, and Bruce, ever the navel-gazer, will have to bring his best self to navigate the complexities of the pas de deux. While Alexander McCall Smith’s delightfully warm and witty comedy takes some surprising turns, the improbable adventures of this quirky cast of Scots will affirm the heart and joy in Edinburgh’s New Town.
The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin
Here is a truth that can’t be escaped: for Mia ‘Rabbit’ Hayes, life is coming to an end . . .
Rabbit Hayes loves her life, ordinary as it is, and the extraordinary people in it.
She loves her spirited daughter, Juliet; her colourful, unruly family; the only man in her big heart, Johnny Faye.
But it turns out the world has other plans for Rabbit, and she’s OK with that. Because she has plans for the world too, and only a handful of days left to make them happen.
Here is a truth that won’t be forgotten: if you can laugh through life’s surprises and find the joy in every moment, you will live a full life.
Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown
When Alice Hale leaves a career to become a writer and follows her husband to the New York suburbs, she is unaccustomed to filling her days alone in a big, empty house. But when she finds a vintage cookbook buried in the basement, she becomes captivated by its previous owner: 1950s housewife Nellie Murdoch. As Alice cooks her way through the past, she realises that within the pages Nellie left clues about her life.
Soon Alice learns that while a Baked Alaska may seem harmless, Nellie’s secrets may have been anything but. When Alice uncovers a more sinister, even dangerous, side to Nellie’s marriage, and has become increasingly dissatisfied with her own relationship, she begins to take control of her life and protect herself with a few secrets of her own.
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.
Taking inspiration from a remarkable true story, Coming Up for Air is a bold, richly imagined novel about the transcendent power of storytelling and the immeasurable impact of every human life.
Mrs Hemingway by Naomi Wood
In the dazzling summer of 1926, Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley travel from their home in Paris to a villa in the south of France. They swim, play bridge and drink gin. But wherever they go they are accompanied by the glamorous and irrepressible Fife. Fife is Hadley’s best friend. She is also Ernest’s lover.
Hadley is the first Mrs. Hemingway, but neither she nor Fife will be the last. Over the ensuing decades, Ernest’s literary career will blaze a trail, but his marriages will be ignited by passion and deceit. Four extraordinary women will learn what it means to love the most famous writer of his generation, and each will be forced to ask herself how far she will go to remain his wife . . .
Fierce Dreamer by Linda Lafferty
Born in the bustling artist quarter of Rome, Artemisia, daughter of renowned painter Orazio Gentileschi, is unavoidably drawn into a profession unheard of for women. With an innate grasp of color, light, and composition, and inspired by the mercurial Caravaggio, the fiery Artemisia embraces her calling with a precocious brilliance. But as a young woman, she also finds herself oppressed by a powerful patriarchy, and she is forced to endure emotional and physical abuse at the hands of men.
Until a shattering act of violence unleashes Artemisia’s righteous fury.
Refusing to be silenced and resolved to best men at their own games, Artemisia does what no woman had dared to do before. She fights back.
A bracing historical novel about a woman boldly at odds with her time, Fierce Dreamer explores the fearless determination that would fuel Artemisia Gentileschi’s most courageous works of art and make her independent voice a vital one for our own time.
The Long Path Home by Ellen Lindseth
1944, Chicago. From desperate small-town teen to star of the burlesque circuit, Violet Ernte has survived tough choices and more than one reinvention. Now, framed for an underworld murder, she has one way out: agree to keep Marcie, a reckless USO showgirl and mobster’s daughter, on the straight and narrow. Vi’s new act: play innocent ingenue and join the all-American song-and-dance troupe bound for overseas to a war-torn Italy.
When a USO headliner goes missing soon after landing, the disappearance has treacherous implications for the entire troupe. With Marcie’s safety in peril, Vi turns to battle-roughened army sergeant Ansel Danger for help. But getting closer to Ansel means exposing her past and her double life of scandal and deception. And in a heartbeat, she could lose everything.
Defiant and resilient, Vi is used to taking risks. This time it’s for redemption. To love, and to be loved. And for a second chance at a future she thought was lost forever.
Island of Secrets by Rachel Rhys
London 1957: Iris Bailey is bored to death of working in the typing pool and living with her parents in Hemel Hempstead. A gifted portraitist with a talent for sketching party guests, she dreams of becoming an artist. So she can’t believe her luck when socialite Nell Hardman invites her to Havana to draw at the wedding of her Hollywood director father.
Far from home, she quickly realizes the cocktails, tropical scents and azure skies mask a darker reality. As Cuba teeters on the edge of revolution and Iris’s heart melts for troubled photographer Joe, she discovers someone in the charismatic Hardman family is hiding a terrible secret. Can she uncover the ugly truth behind the glamour and the dazzle before all their lives are torn apart?
The Stolen Letter by Clara Benson
Italy, 1944: Stella stared at the envelope addressed to her, dated from the day of his death. With a trembling hand she opened it, tears rolling down her cheeks. She read the letter that should have made it to her years ago – the letter that had been ruthlessly stolen from her. It held his last words, and it changed everything.
1938: When Stella arrives in Italy, it’s love at first sight. She is wowed by the rolling hills dotted with olive trees, the buttermilk villas with shuttered windows and terracotta roofs that glow gloriously in the sunlight. Even the breeze holds the scent of freedom – freedom from England, where the shadow of her past haunted her.
Then there is Ted, an American journalist who is wild and mischievous, with an arrogance bordering on rude. Stella is infuriated by him – yet she cannot deny the lure of the danger and excitement he promises.
But there is something dark under the bright surface of this beautiful country, with unspeakable tragedies just around the corner. When the Nazis take control of Italy, Stella and Ted – and whatever dreams the future held for them – are ripped apart. Ted is torn away, to report from the perilous frontline. Meanwhile, Stella is paralysed with fear as screeching bombs descend, destroying everything in their wake. There is nothing left to do but sit in darkness, praying to see tomorrow.
And it seems that even in Italy, Stella’s past has found her. Somewhere in the winding streets of Florence there is a letter that will change the course of her fate. Unknown to her, it holds a secret with the power to rewrite her past, and everything she has been running away from. But will it come too late? And with the odds stacked against her, will she ever see Ted again?
The Tea Gardens by Fiona McIntosh
A passionate love affair. An impossible choice.
England, 1932. Dr Isla Fenwick has little interest in marriage, until a reunion with an old friend blossoms into to something more. But Isla is determined to fulfil a long-held promise to practice medicine in India. With her fiancé’s blessing she sails to Calcutta to set up a midwifery clinic – promising to return within the year.
There, Isla does her best to navigate a complex new world, and forms a deep connection with one of her colleagues – against all better instincts.
When a desperate rescue mission to save the one person who needs her the most takes her into the foothills of the Himalayas, Isla will be asked to pay the ultimate price for her passions.
A Tear for the Dead by David Penny
Poison and betrayal takes many forms when a Queen is meant to die
1491-2: Granada, Andalusia: In a land ravaged by wilful destruction Thomas Berrington tries to serve Queen Isabel as best he can. When an attempt is made on her life only Thomas can save the life of her companion. The assassin doesn’t care who they hurt in their quest to change the conflict that is coming to a conclusion.
Alongside his companions Thomas tracks down the culprit only to discover someone else lies behind their actions. For Thomas, Jorge and the others life has grown complex. The end of the 700 year presence of the Moors in Spain. Thomas’s growing conflict over choosing the right woman to share his life. The death of old lovers and friends. Not to mention a party of Ottoman Turks whose presence spreads confusion.
Through all of this chaos Thomas tries to do what is right, what is just. Except sometimes the right kind of justice is hard to find.
The Girl with the Golden Scissors by Julia Drosten
Christmas 1889. A baby is born in the early hours at Vienna General Hospital, only to be abandoned by her unwed mother and entrusted to a foundling home and its loving caretaker.
Fanny Schindler grows from a precocious girl into a strong-willed young woman. Undeterred by the rules of her station, she’s determined to rise above her humble origins and pursue her dreams at all costs, becoming an apprentice to one of the most glamorous fashion houses in Austria-Hungary. All the while, as Fanny searches for a sense of belonging, her path crosses with those of three people who will change her future. To one, she is a cherished friend. To another, a confidant. And to a handsome career soldier, something more.
When hostilities in Europe burst into flame as a brutal world war, the future of the dual monarchy is at stake, friendships are strained, loyalties are tested, and everything is at risk. And when long-buried secrets about Fanny’s past come to light, she must decide what truly matters—and what is worth fighting for in a new world of infinite possibilities.
A Painter in Penang by Clare Flynn
Sixteen-year-old Jasmine Barrington hates everything about living in Kenya and longs to return to the island of Penang in British colonial Malaya where she was born. Expulsion from her Nairobi convent school offers a welcome escape – the chance to stay with her parents’ friends, Mary and Reggie Hyde-Underwood on their Penang rubber estate.
But this is 1948 and communist insurgents are embarking on a reign of terror in what becomes the Malayan Emergency. Jasmine unearths a shocking secret as her own life is put in danger. Throughout the turmoil, her one constant is her passion for painting.
The Girl Without a Name by Suzanne Goldring
September 1940. As the bombs of the Blitz rain down on the East End of London, Ruby and Stevie are falling in love. United by a shocking experience when they were evacuees, brave sixteen-year-old Ruby believes she and Stevie are kindred spirits, and they find solace together surrounded by the bombed-out shells of London houses. But when Stevie is posted abroad, handsome and smart in his khaki uniform, Ruby can’t shake a sense of foreboding. As she waits desperately for letters with foreign stamps that never come, she begins to fear that he is lost forever…
August 2004. Billie rushes to her father Dick’s hospital bedside. A terrible stroke has robbed him of his speech and he is a shell of the man he was before. Billie holds his hand, hoping her presence will bring him peace. But when she finds a crumpled black and white photo in his wallet of a smiling dark-haired girl she doesn’t recognise, Dick frantically tries to talk. Billie knows this is important, and she must ask the questions her father cannot. All she has to go on is the name he is just able to mumble. Ruby.
How is Ruby, a lonely East End orphan with no family, connected to Billie’s beloved father? What dangerous things has Billie’s father seen and done that he never told her? Who is the frightened young boy behind the man she knows? And can Billie lay the ghosts of the past to rest, even if it means revealing the darkest secrets of her father’s life and breaking her own heart?
The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh
Rajkumar is only another boy, helping on a market stall in the dusty square outside the royal palace, when the British force the Burmese King, Queen and all the Court into exile. He is rescued by the far-seeing Chinese merchant, and with him builds up a logging business in upper Burma. But haunted by his vision of the Royal Family, he journeys to the obscure town in India where they have been exiled.
The story follows the fortunes – rubber estates in Malaya, businesses in Singapore, estates in Burma – which Rajkumar, with his Chinese, British and Burmese relations, friends and associates, builds up – from 1870 through the Second World War to the scattering of the extended family to New York and Thailand, London and Hong Kong in the post-war years.
Motherwell ; A Girlhood by Deborah Orr
Just shy of 18, Deborah Orr left Motherwell – the town she both loved and hated – to go to university. It was a decision her mother railed against from the moment the idea was raised. Win had very little agency in the world, every choice was determined by the men in her life. And strangely, she wanted the same for her daughter. Attending university wasn’t for the likes of the Orr family. Worse still, it would mean leaving Win behind – and Win wanted Deborah with her at all times, rather like she wanted her arm with her at all times. But while she managed to escape, Deborah’s severing from her family was only superficial. She continued to travel back to Motherwell, fantasizing about the day that Win might come to accept her as good enough. Though of course it was never meant to be.
MOTHERWELL is a sharp, candid and often humorous memoir about the long shadow that can be cast when the core relationship in your life compromises every effort you make to become an individual. It is about what we inherit – the good and the very bad – and how a deeper understanding of the place and people you have come from can bring you towards redemption.
Broken Greek by Pete Paphides
‘Do you sometimes feel like the music you’re hearing is explaining your life to you?’
When Pete’s parents moved from Cyprus to Birmingham in the 1960s in the hope of a better life, they had no money and only a little bit of English. They opened a fish-and-chip shop in Acocks Green. The Great Western Fish Bar is where Pete learned about coin-operated machines, male banter and Britishness.
Shy and introverted, Pete stopped speaking from age 4 to 7, and found refuge instead in the bittersweet embrace of pop songs, thanks to Top of the Pops and Dial-A-Disc. From Brotherhood of Man to UB40, from ABBA to The Police, music provided the safety net he needed to protect him from the tensions of his home life. It also helped him navigate his way around the challenges surrounding school, friendships and phobias such as visits to the barber, standing near tall buildings and Rod Hull and Emu.
With every passing year, his guilty secret became more horrifying to him: his parents were Greek, but all the things that excited him were British. And the engine of that realisation? ‘Sugar Baby Love’, ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’, ‘Tragedy’, ‘Silly Games’, ‘Going Underground’, ‘Come On Eileen’, and every other irresistibly thrilling chart hit blaring out of the chip shop radio.
The Tent, the Bucket and Me by Emma Kennedy
For the 70s child, summer holidays didn’t mean the joy of CentreParcs or the sophistication of a Tuscan villa. They meant being crammed into a car with Grandma and heading to the coast. With just a tent for a home and a bucket for the necessities, we would set off on new adventures each year stoically resolving to enjoy ourselves.
For Emma Kennedy, and her mum and dad, disaster always came along for the ride no matter where they went. Whether it was being swept away by a force ten gale on the Welsh coast or suffering copious amounts of food poisoning on a brave trip to the south of France, family holidays always left them battered and bruised.
But they never gave up. Emma’s memoir, The Tent, The Bucket and Me, is a painfully funny reminder of just what it was like to spend your summer holidays cold, damp but with sand between your toes.
My Good Life in France by Janine Marsh
One grey dismal day, Janine Marsh was on a trip to northern France to pick up some cheap wine. She returned to England a few hours later having put in an offer on a rundown old barn in the rural Seven Valleys area of Pas de Calais. This was not something she’d expected or planned for.
Janine eventually gave up her job in London to move with her husband to live the good life in France. Or so she hoped. While getting to grips with the locals and la vie Française, and renovating her dilapidated new house, a building lacking the comforts of mains drainage, heating or proper rooms, and with little money and less of a clue, she started to realize there was lot more to her new home than she could ever have imagined.Ten years ago, Janine Marsh decided to leave her corporate life behind to fix up a run-down barn in northern France. This is the true story of her rollercoaster ride, in many ways a love story, with her sharp observations on the very different way of life, culture and etiquette of France.
From her early struggles and homesickness through personal tragedy, to her attempts to become self-sufficient and to breed ‘the fattest chickens in the village’, Janine learned that there was more to her new home than she could ever have imagined.
Homesick : Why I Live in a Shed by Catrina Davies
Aged thirty-one, Catrina Davies was renting a box-room in a house in Bristol, which she shared with four other adults and a child. Working several jobs and never knowing if she could make the rent, she felt like she was breaking apart.
Homesick for the landscape of her childhood, in the far west of Cornwall, Catrina decides to give up the box-room and face her demons. As a child, she saw her family and their security torn apart; now, she resolves to make a tiny, dilapidated shed a home of her own.
With the freedom to write, surf and make music, Catrina rebuilds the shed and, piece by piece, her own sense of self. On the border of civilisation and wilderness, between the woods and the sea, she discovers the true value of home, while trying to find her place in a fragile natural world.
This is the story of a personal housing crisis and a country-wide one, grappling with class, economics, mental health and nature. It shows how housing can trap us or set us free, and what it means to feel at home.
First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung
Until the age of five, Loung Ung lived in Phnom Penh, one of seven children of a high-ranking government official. She was a precocious child who loved the open city markets, fried crickets, chicken fights and being cheeky to her parents.
When Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge army stormed into Phnom Penh in April 1975, Loung’s family fled their home and were eventually forced to disperse to survive. Loung was trained as a child soldier while her brothers and sisters were sent to labour camps. The surviving siblings were only finally reunited after the Vietnamese penetrated Cambodia and started to destroy the Khmer Rouge.
Bolstered by the bravery of one brother, the vision of the others and the gentle kindness of her sister, Loung forged on to create for herself a courageous new life.
First They Killed My Father is an unforgettable book told through the voice of the young and fearless Loung. It is a shocking and tragic tale of a girl who was determined to survive despite the odds.
So that’s it for this month, a pared back selection but hopefully still enough for you to discover a new, bargain read.