My Bookish Month – June 2021

A break from ‘camino’ reading this month as I headed off on holiday for two weeks. I’d like to say I got lots of reading done, but the football rather hampered that plan. That said I did manage 10 which isn’t too shabby for me. I also came back two books heavier courtesy of the National Trust having opened up their second hand book shops. I was restricted to two purely because I didn’t have any money. As most shops are not taking cash, and therefore not giving change, my supply of coins has been depleted. Maybe that was no bad thing, but I’ll be armed and ready when we go back in September, I’ll raid my £2 coin savings jar!

Books I Bought this Month

Florence Adler Swims Forever

Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland

How far would you go to hide the truth from the ones you love the most?
 
Atlantic City, 1934. Every summer, Esther and Joseph Adler rent their house out to holidaymakers and move into the apartment above the bakery they own. The apartment is where they raised their two daughters, Fannie and Florence, and, despite the cramped quarters, it still feels like home.
 
Now Florence has returned from college, determined to spend the summer training to swim the English Channel, and Fannie, pregnant again after recently losing a baby, is on bedrest, leaving her seven-year-old daughter Gussie in Esther’s care. After Joseph insists they take in Anna, a  young woman whom he recently helped emigrate from Nazi Germany, the apartment is bursting at the seams. Esther wants nothing more than to keep her daughters close and safe but some matters are beyond her control: there’s Fannie’s risky pregnancy—not to mention her always-scheming husband, Isaac—and the fact that Stuart Williams, the heir of a hotel notorious for its anti-Semitic policies, seems to be in love with Florence.
 
When tragedy strikes during one of Florence’s practice swims, Esther makes the shocking decision to keep the truth about Florence’s death from Fannie—at least until the baby is born. She pulls the rest of the family into an elaborate web of secret keeping and lies, forcing to the surface long-buried tensions that show us just how quickly the act of protecting those we love can turn into betrayal.
 
Told with humour and tenderness and based on a true story, Rachel Beanland’s debut is a breathtaking meditation on the lengths we go to in order to keep our families together. At its heart, it is an uplifting portrayal of how the human spirit can endure—and even thrive—after tragedy.


The Cancer Ladies’ Running Club: The most emotional, uplifting and life-affirming novel of summer 2021

The Cancer Ladies’ Running Club by Josie Lloyd

Sometimes we need our friends to help us find our feet…

When Keira first receives her breast cancer diagnosis, she doesn’t want to have to tell her family, or step back from work. She doesn’t want to sit in a hospital, or be part of a group of fellow cancer patients. Cancer is not her club.

But as she accepts that her health is no longer something she can rely on, Keira finds herself embracing running. And running in the company of a group of brilliant, funny women each going through treatment unexpectedly gives Keira the hope she needs.

Because the C-word is not going to define Keira’s identity. And with the Cancer Ladies’ Running Club cheering her on, she’s going to reclaim her life.
One step at a time.

Life isn’t always the race we expected to run but this moving and uplifting novel is full of hope and about love, family, friendship and the power of finding your tribe.


The Shape of Darkness: 'Darkly addictive, utterly compelling' Ruth Hogan Kindle Edition

The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell

Wicked deeds require the cover of darkness…

A struggling silhouette artist in Victorian Bath seeks out a renowned child spirit medium in order to speak to the dead – and to try and identify their killers – in this beguiling new tale from Laura Purcell.

Silhouette artist Agnes is struggling to keep her business afloat. Still recovering from a serious illness herself, making enough money to support her elderly mother and her orphaned nephew Cedric has never been easy, but then one of her clients is murdered shortly after sitting for Agnes, and then another, and another…

Desperately seeking an answer, Agnes approaches Pearl, a child spirit medium lodging in Bath with her older half-sister and her ailing father, hoping that if Pearl can make contact with those who died, they might reveal who killed them. But Agnes and Pearl quickly discover that instead they may have opened the door to something that they can never put back…

What secrets lie hidden in the darkness?


The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale Kindle Edition

The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale by Rebecca Stonehill

A compelling page turner of a buried past resurfacing, set against a backdrop of the 1960’s youth culture and war torn Crete.

1967. Handsome but troubled, Jim is almost 18 and he lives and breathes girls, trad jazz, Eel Pie Island and his best friend, Charles. One night, he hears rumours of a community of young people living in caves in Matala, Crete. Determined to escape his odious, bully of a father and repressed mother, Jim hitchhikes through Europe down to Matala. At first, it’s the paradise he dreamt it would be. But as things start to go wrong and his very notion of self unravels, the last thing Jim expects is for this journey of hundreds of miles to set in motion a passage of healing which will lead him back to the person he hates most in the world: his father.

Taking in the counter-culture of the 1960’s, the clash of relationships between the WW2 generation and their children, the baby boomers, this is a novel about secrets from the past finally surfacing, the healing of trauma and the power of forgiveness.


The Lantern Men: Dr Ruth Galloway Mysteries 12 (The Dr Ruth Galloway Mysteries) Kindle Edition

The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths

Everything has changed for Dr Ruth Galloway.

She has a new job, home and partner, and is no longer North Norfolk police’s resident forensic archaeologist. That is, until convicted murderer Ivor March offers to make DCI Nelson a deal. Nelson was always sure that March killed more women than he was charged with. Now March confirms this, and offers to show Nelson where the other bodies are buried – but only if Ruth will do the digging.

Curious, but wary, Ruth agrees. March tells Ruth that he killed four more women and that their bodies are buried near a village bordering the fens, said to be haunted by the Lantern Men, mysterious figures holding lights that lure travellers to their deaths.

Is Ivor March himself a lantern man, luring Ruth back to Norfolk? What is his plan, and why is she so crucial to it? And are the killings really over?


Between Two Evils Kindle Edition

Between Two Evils by Eva Dolan

As the country bakes under the relentless summer sun, a young doctor is found brutally murdered at his home in a picturesque Cambridgeshire village.

Is his death connected to his private life – or his professional one?

Dr Joshua Ainsworth worked at an all-female detention centre, one still recovering from a major scandal a few years before. Was he the whistle-blower – or an instigator?

As Detective Sergeant Ferreira and Detective Inspector Zigic begin to painstakingly reconstruct Dr Ainsworth’s last days, they uncover yet more secrets and more suspects. But this isn’t the only case that’s demanding their attention – a violent criminal has been released on a technicality and the police force know he will strike again: the only question is who will be his first victim…


The Legacy of the Bones (The Baztan Trilogy, Book 2) Kindle Edition

The Legacy of the Bones by Dolores Redondo

IT TAKES JUST ONE WORD TO STIR THE GHOSTS OF THE PAST

A year after arresting Jason Medina for the rape and murder of his step-daughter, Detective Inspector Amaia Salazar has one last duty to complete before starting her maternity leave – attending Medina’s trial.

When the trial is suddenly called off, Amaia is appalled. But the judge had no choice. Jason Medina has committed suicide, leaving behind a cryptic note addressed to Amaia: the single word ‘Tarttalo’.

To unravel the truth behind this obscure reference to Basque mythology, Amaia must return once again to the Baztan valley, her family home and the place where she feels most vulnerable. As the investigation becomes more complicated and more personal, those closest to Amaia will be placed in mortal danger…


Dead Man’s Grave: A breathtaking, chilling, Scottish crime fiction mystery thriller (DS Max Craigie Scottish Crime Thrille...

Dead Man’s Grave by Neil Lancaster (pre-order)

This grave can never be opened.
The head of Scotland’s most powerful crime family is brutally murdered, his body dumped inside an ancient grave in a remote cemetery.
 
This murder can never be forgotten.
Detectives Max Craigie and Janie Calder arrive at the scene, a small town where everyone has secrets to hide. They soon realise this murder is part of a blood feud between two Scottish families that stretches back to the 1800s. One thing’s for certain: it might be the latest killing, but it won’t be the last…
 
This killer can never be caught.
As the body count rises, the investigation uncovers large-scale corruption at the heart of the Scottish Police Service. Now Max and Janie must turn against their closest colleagues – to solve a case that could cost them far more than just their lives…


Life Ruins

Life Ruins by Danuta Kot

In a small northern town, girls are disappearing.

You won’t see it in the papers and the police aren’t taking any notice, but the clues are there if you know where to look.

Becca sees that something is wrong, but she’s been labelled ‘difficult’ thanks to her troubled past. So when a girl is so savagely beaten she can’t be identified, and Becca claims she knows who she is, no one will believe her.

With the police refusing to listen, Becca digs for evidence that will prove what she is saying. But her search for justice will put herself and those closest to her in danger – and once she finds the truth, will anyone even listen?


The Handover

The Handover by David M Barnett

Daisy is the night security guard at the Manchester Museum of Social History. She takes her job very seriously, protecting the museum from teenage troublemakers.

Nate works the day shift, though he’d be more suited as a museum guide the way he chats with the visitors. Daisy doesn’t approve: how does he find it so easy to talk to strangers?

For five minutes each day their shifts overlap at handover. He passes the torch over to Daisy – always with a smile on his face, and she asks him for a full report of the day, which he gives reluctantly. It’s the only interaction they have… until mysterious things begin to happen at the museum.

They soon discover they have a lot more in common than they realised… and their investigations uncover more than just the truth. Could they have feelings for one another?


The Pull of the Stars: The Richard & Judy Book Club Pick and Sunday Times Bestseller

The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue

Dublin, 1918. In a country doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city centre, where expectant mothers who have come down with an unfamiliar flu are quarantined together. Into Julia’s regimented world step two outsiders: Doctor Kathleen Lynn, on the run from the police, and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.

In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over the course of three days, these women change each other’s lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work.


Fresh Water for Flowers

Fresh Water for Flowers by Valerie Perrin

Violette Toussaint is the caretaker at a cemetery in a small town in Bourgogne. Her daily life is lived to the rhythms of the hilarious and touching confidences of random visitors and her colleagues—three gravediggers, three groundskeepers, and a priest.

Violette’s routine is disrupted one day by the arrival of police chief Julien Seul, wishing to deposit his mother’s ashes on the gravesite of a complete stranger. Julien is not the only one to guard a painful secret: his mother’s story of clandestine love breaks through Violette’s carefully constructed defences to reveal the tragic loss of her daughter, and her steely determination to find out who is responsible.  

The funny, moving, intimately told story of a woman who believes obstinately in happiness, Fresh Water for Flowers brings out the exceptional and the poetic in the ordinary. A delightful, atmospheric, absorbing tale.


City of Sinners (D.I. Harry Virdee)

City of Sinners by A A Dhand

It is an ordinary Yorkshire morning, cold and miserable.

The streets are not yet busy. Police cars hurriedly pull up in the centre of town, but none of their lights are flashing and the sirens are silent.

A body has been found, elaborately and painstakingly positioned to send a message. But what message? And to who?

It’s DCI Harry Virdee’s job to find out. But Harry doesn’t know that the killer is watching him, that the killer is coming for him.

Because this is personal.


The Hand of Fatima

The Hand of Fatima by Ildefonso Falcones

Snared between two cultures and two loves, one man is forced to choose…

1564, the Kingdom of Granada. After years of Christian oppression, the Moors take arms and daub the white houses of Sierra Nevada with the blood of their victims.

Amidst the conflict is young Hernando, the son of an Arab woman and the Christian priest who raped her. He is despised and regularly beaten by his own step-father for his ‘tainted’ heritage.
Fuelled with the love of the beautiful Fatima, Hernando hatches a plan to unite the two warring faiths – and the two halves of his identity…


The Split: The most gripping, twisty thriller of the year (A Richard & Judy Book Club pick)

The Split by Sharon Bolton

SHE’LL NEVER STOP RUNNING.
BUT HE’LL NEVER STOP LOOKING.

A year ago Felicity Lloyd fled England to South Georgia, one of the most remote islands in the world, escaping her past and the man she once loved. Can she keep running her whole life?

Freddie Lloyd has served time for murder – and now he wants her back. Wherever she is, he won’t stop until he finds her. Will he be able to track her to the ends of the earth?

TOGETHER THEY’LL FIND THEMSELVES TRAPPED ON THE ICE AND IN DANGER. WHO WILL SURVIVE?

Subscription Books

The Secrets of Strangers: A BBC Radio 2 Book Club Pick (Charity Norman Reading-Group Fiction)

The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman (NB Mag Sub)

A regular weekday morning veers drastically off-course for a group of strangers whose paths cross in a London café  their lives never to be the same again when an apparently crazed gunman holds them hostage. But there is more to the situation than first meets the eye and as the captives grapple with their own inner demons, the line between right and wrong starts to blur. Will the secrets they keep stop them from escaping with their lives?


House of Correction: A twisty and shocking thriller from the master of psychological suspense

House of Correction by Nicci French (Capital Crime Book Club)

She’s a murderer.
 
Everyone knows she killed Stuart Rees – why else would his dead body be found in her shed?
So now Tabitha is in prison, awaiting trial.
 
Coming back to the remote coastal village where she grew up was a mistake. She didn’t fit in then, and she doesn’t fit in now.
 
That day is such a blur, she can’t remember clearly what happened. There is something she is missing, something important… She only knows one thing. She is not capable of murder.
 
And the only one she can trust to help her out of this situation is herself.
So she must fight. Against the odds.
 
For her life. 


Moonflower Murders: by the global bestselling author of Magpie Murders

Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz (Capital Crime Book Club)

Retired publisher Susan Ryeland is running a small hotel on a Greek island with her long-term boyfriend. But life isn’t as idyllic as it should be: exhausted by the responsibility of making everything work on an island where nothing ever does, Susan is beginning to miss her literary life in London – even though her publishing career once entangled her in a lethal literary murder plot.

So when an English couple come to visit with tales of a murder that took place in a hotel the same day their daughter Cecily was married there, Susan can’t help but find herself fascinated.

And when they tell her that Cecily has gone missing a few short hours after reading Atticus Pund Takes The Case, a crime novel Susan edited some years previously, Susan knows she must return to London to find out what has happened.

The clues to the murder and to Cecily’s disappearance must lie within the pages of this novel.

Books I Read

Chasing Shadows

Chasing Shadows by T A Williams

Amy had it all – money, brains and beauty. And then the accident happened.

Still recovering, this is Amy’s first time away from home. She heads for Spain, accompanied by the mysterious and troubled Luke. But, just like Amy, Luke finds he is also running from his past…

1314: A Templar Knight is also running. He meets the wife of a former comrade, the victim of a terrifying attack. Taking her under his wing, they must journey together through a dangerous world carrying a treasure of inestimable value.

As Luke and Amy travel through the stunning scenery of Northern Spain the medieval couple, so similar to themselves, emerge from the shadows of time.


The French House (The Missing Boyfriend Series Book 2)

The French House by Nick Alexander

CC is trapped by a job she no longer loves in an unfriendly city. So when her new boyfriend decides it’s time to sell up and move to the South of France, she decides in seconds to change her life. After all, who wouldn’t pick an azure sea, aperitifs and sunshine over a dreary commute and a rainy climate?

She hadn’t expected a tumbledown farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. Or a motley assortment of surly builders, eccentric farmers and a resentful, terrifying neighbour – who happens to be her boyfriend’s aunt.

Suddenly, CC’s dream of a place in the sun is looking more like a nightmare. Does she have the courage to stick it out, and make a home of her French house?


Dark Vineyard: France's favourite policeman's second brilliant adventure (The Dordogne Mysteries Book 2)

Dark Vineyard by Martin Walker

In the second mystery of this mouthwatering and bestselling series, Bruno, Chief of Police of a small rural French town, must balance local tradition and modern progress while bringing a killer to justice.

Just before dawn one summer morning Bruno is summoned by the wail of the siren in the little town of St Denis in the Périgord. A fire is raging in a local barn and spreading to the surrounding fields. When Bruno arrives at the scene, the smell of petrol leaves no doubt: it was arson. The barn belongs to an agricultural research company experimenting with genetically modified crops – an unpopular move in deeply traditional St Denis.

Meanwhile, a Californian producer wants to set up a wine-making business in the valley. Despite the money and jobs this would bring, many fear it would destroy their town. When a violent death follows the crop burning, it looks as though someone is prepared to do anything to stop the scheme. Bruno will have to draw on all his local knowledge to reach the truth.


Fatal Music: A Captain Darac Novel 2

Fatal Music by Peter Morfoot

Captain Paul Darac of the Brigade Criminelle is called to a potential crime scene – an elderly woman found dead in her hot tub. At first it is thought that she died of natural causes, but a surprising link with Darac’s own life leads him to dig deeper. In doing so he uncovers disturbing proof that there may have been a motive to kill the woman, and there is no shortage of suspects…


The Cancer Ladies’ Running Club: The most emotional, uplifting and life-affirming novel of summer 2021

The Cancer Ladies’ Running Club by Josie Lloyd

Sometimes we need our friends to help us find our feet…

When Keira first receives her breast cancer diagnosis, she doesn’t want to have to tell her family, or step back from work. She doesn’t want to sit in a hospital, or be part of a group of fellow cancer patients. Cancer is not her club.

But as she accepts that her health is no longer something she can rely on, Keira finds herself embracing running. And running in the company of a group of brilliant, funny women each going through treatment unexpectedly gives Keira the hope she needs.

Because the C-word is not going to define Keira’s identity. And with the Cancer Ladies’ Running Club cheering her on, she’s going to reclaim her life.
One step at a time.

Life isn’t always the race we expected to run but this moving and uplifting novel is full of hope and about love, family, friendship and the power of finding your tribe.


Streets of Darkness (D.I. Harry Virdee)

Streets of Darkness by A A Dhand

The sky over Bradford is heavy with foreboding. It always is. But this morning it has reason to be – this morning a body has been found. And it’s not just any body.

Detective Harry Virdee should be at home with his wife. Impending fatherhood should be all he can think about but he’s been suspended from work just as the biggest case of the year lands on what would have been his desk. He can’t keep himself away.

Determined to restore his reputation, Harry is obliged to take to the shadows in search of notorious ex-convict and prime suspect, Lucas Dwight. But as the motivations of the murder threaten to tip an already unstable city into riotous anarchy, Harry finds his preconceptions turned on their head as he discovers what it’s like to be on the other side of the law…


Things Can Only Get Better: An absolutely heartwarming and uplifting read

Things Can Only Get Better By David M Barnett

For elderly churchwarden Arthur Calderbank, there’s no place like home. His home just so happens to be a graveyard.

He keeps himself to himself, gets on with his job, and visits his wife everyday for a chat. When one day he finds someone else has been to see his wife – and has left flowers on her grave – he is determined to solve the mystery of who and why. He receives unlikely help from a group of teenage girls as he searches for answers, and soon learns that there is more to life than being surrounded by death.

Set during the 90s, when we were all just common people believing things could only get better, this is an uplifting story about the power of a little kindness, friendship and community.


Close to Home: The 'impossible to put down' Richard & Judy Book Club thriller pick 2018 (DI Fawley)

Close to Home by Cara Hunter

HOW CAN A CHILD GO MISSING WITHOUT A TRACE?

Last night, eight-year-old Daisy Mason disappeared from a family party. No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying.

DI Adam Fawley is trying to keep an open mind. But he knows the nine times out of ten, it’s someone the victim knew.

That means someone is lying…
And that Daisy’s time is running out.


The Anonymous Venetian (Commissario Brunetti)

The Anonymous Venetian by Donna Leon

Commissario Brunetti’s hopes of a refreshing family holiday in the mountains are once again dashed when a gruesome discovery is made in Marghera – a body so badly beaten the face is unrecognizable.

Brunetti searches Venice for someone who can identify the dead man. But he is met with a wall of silence.

Then he receives a telephone call from a contact who promises some tantalizing information. And before the night is out Brunetti is confronting yet another appalling and apparently senseless death . . .


The Orange Grove: a mouth-watering holiday romance set in sunny Seville

The Orange Grove by Rosanna Ley

An unforgettable story of past love and family secrets, set in sunny Seville.

Holly loves making marmalade. Now she has a chance to leave her stressful city job and pursue her dream – of returning to the Dorset landscape of her childhood to open Bitter Orange, a shop celebrating the fruit that first inspired her.

Holly’s mother Ella has always loved Seville. So why is she reluctant to go back there with Holly to source products for the shop? What is she frightened of – and does it have anything to do with the old Spanish recipe for Seville orange and almond cake that Ella keeps hidden from her family?

In Seville, where she was once forced to make the hardest decision of her life, Ella must finally face up to the past, while Holly meets someone who poses a threat to all her plans. Seville is a city full of sunshine and oranges. But it can also be bittersweet. Will love survive the secrets of the orange grove?


That’s me for this month so all that’s left to say is : Happy Reading!

 

14 comments

  1. Hi Jill, it was such a lovely surprise to spot my book on here 🙂 Thank you xxx
    Oh my goodness I am so happy to hear NT second hand bookshops have re-opened – we have an incredible one in Norfolk at Blicking Hall. I would love to know what you made of Emma Donoghue’s book and ooooh, another book set in Granada, much further back in time – fascinating! X

    Liked by 1 person

    • My pleasure, looking forward to reading it. I haven’t read Emma Donoghue’s book yet either, I’m very good at buying – just takes me longer to get them read! I’ve had my eye on The Hand of Fatima for ages, that was one of my NT finds. Good luck at Blicking Hall with yours.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Welcome back from your travels – where did you go?
    Our nearest National Trust property used to have a fantastic second hand bookshop but the house is now closed (the gardens are open) so they’ve moved the books into the cafe and the choice is significantly reduced. yet another victim of Covid

    Liked by 1 person

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