My Bookish Month – February 2022

To be honest it feels wrong to be talking about how many books I’ve bought and read in view of the horror unfolding in Ukraine. However, not doing so sadly won’t alter the situation, plus, as many of us have found over the past two years, books have been the thing to restore some sanity & offer an escape. Whilst most of us (on the surface) are carrying on with business as usual I suspect we all pretty much feel the same. So, in the hope that this might either make your own spending spree look acceptable, encourage you to find new reads or offer you a positive diversion here’s my bookish month.

I’ve continued the daily cycling which is really helping me power through my reading as well as the kilometres – 420 in Feb to be precise. I’ve read another 16 books this month and made inroads into my ‘reading the backlog’ plan. I did get a bit diverted this month by several recent titles which I couldn’t resist buying/borrowing to read immediately. I’m also still not ready to leave the romances behind, I seem to need happy endings more than ever. I read a lovely batch of them this month and can recommend them all. I will issue one warning though, if you’re tempted by Before We Grow Old tissues are essential! My favourite book this month was The Dictionary of Lost Words a beautiful blend of history, suffragism, female friendship and romance which takes as its inspiration the creation of The Oxford English Dictionary – this will require more tissues. I have tried to introduce some balance though by slowly drifting back to the dark side, that said amidst the police corruption and prostitution of Dancers in the Wind I was also engrossed in the blossoming romance scenario involving the lead detective. I’ll be back for book two to see how that pans out!

My ‘reducing the book mountain’ was slightly knocked off kilter by a mini spending spree and some extra subscription titles (to make up for books which never arrived). I will endeavour to be better this month, but my daily Kindle bargain posts are as big a temptation for me as they are for some of you – mentioning no names!

(NB This post features Affiliate links from which I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases)

Books I Bought this Month

The First Time We Met by Jo Lovett

What if you met The One on his wedding day?

Izzy doesn’t believe in love at first sight, but when Sam walks into the cafe where she works one cold December morning, she knows without a doubt that he’s The One. Too bad Sam’s getting married. Today.

Nearly a year later, Izzy still can’t stop thinking about Sam, the one that got away, but she knows it’s time to move on: he’s a married man and probably wouldn’t recognise her if he passed her on the street.

But Sam has never forgotten Izzy, the funny, gorgeous woman who asked him out on his wedding day. If the timing had only been better, he knows they could have had something wonderful.

When Izzy and Sam’s paths finally cross again, everything has changed. But with the Atlantic Ocean and decades of baggage between them, they are about to find out whether some obstacles are too big for even true love to overcome.


Waters of Eternal Youth by Donna Leon

Brunetti is investigating a cold case by request of the grand Contessa Lando-Continui, a friend of Brunetti’s mother-in-law. Fifteen years ago the Contessa’s teenage granddaughter, Manuela, was found drowning in a canal. She was rescued from the canal at the last moment, but in many ways it was too late; she suffered severe brain damage and her life was never the same again. Once a passionate horse rider, Manuela, now aged thirty, cannot remember the accident, or her beloved horse, and lives trapped in an eternal youth.

The Contessa, unconvinced that this was an accident, implores Brunetti to find the culprit she believes was responsible for ruining Manuela’s life. Out of a mixture of curiosity, pity and a willingness to fulfil the wishes of a loving grandmother, Brunetti reopens the case. But once he starts to investigate, Brunetti finds a murky past and a dark story at its heart.

The Waters of Eternal Youth is awash in the rhythms and concerns of contemporary Venetian life, from historical preservation, to housing, to new waves of African migrants, all circling the haunting story of a woman trapped in a perpetual childhood.


Earthly Remains by Donna Leon

Granted leave from the Questura, Commissario Guido Brunetti decides to finally take a well-earned break and visit Sant’Erasmo, one of the largest islands in the Venetian laguna.

The recuperative stay goes according to plan until Davide Casati, the mysterious caretaker of the villa Brunetti has been staying in, goes missing following a sudden storm. Nobody can find him – not his daughter, not his friends, and not the woman he’s been secretly visiting . . .

Convinced that this was no accident, Brunetti feels compelled to set aside his holiday and discover what happened to the man who had recently become his friend.


The Temptation of Forgiveness by Donna Leon

Important information is leaking from inside the Venetian Questura, and Commissario Guido Brunetti is tasked with uncovering the culprit. But before Brunetti can begin his investigation, a friend of his wife’s comes asking for his help, fearful that her son is using drugs.

A few weeks later, the woman’s husband is found unconscious at the foot of a bridge.

Following various contradictory leads, Brunetti navigates his way through Venice’s underworld in an attempt to understand who is responsible for the vicious attack. But as he gets closer to discovering what happened, Brunetti is faced with a difficult truth: sometimes, it’s the best intentions that lead to the darkest of consequences . . .


Trace Elements by Donna Leon

‘They killed him. It was bad money.’ A dying hospice patient gasps these cryptic words about her recently-deceased husband. Brunetti softly promises he will look into what appears to be a private family tragedy. He discovers that her husband worked for a company that monitored the cleanliness of Venice’s water supply and that he had died in a motorcycle accident.

Distracted briefly by Vice Questore Patta’s obsession with youth crime in Venice, Brunetti turns to the remarkable research skills of Patta’s secretary, Signora Elettra Zorzi. With her help, Brunetti comes to realize the perilous meaning in the dying woman’s accusation and the threat it reveals to the health of the entire region.


Walking on Sunshine by Giovanna Fletcher

In the darkness, we all need a little light . . .
________

After Mike loses Pia, his partner of seventeen years, best friends Vicky and Zaza rally round.

But the truth is, in Pia’s absence, they all need more than a little help . . .

Just-engaged Zaza fears the next step. Mum Vicky has lost sight of herself. And Mike can’t figure out how to start again.

Luckily, Pia left a list of loving instructions to help them cope.

Which is why they find themselves trekking in Peru. Stumbling up mountains. Lost in sweltering rainforests. As friendships and hope fray, they cling to their faith in Pia.

Soon they learn anything is possible when you’re walking on sunshine.


It Must be Love by Caroline Khoury

Fourteen days together. Fifteen years apart.
Their love story isn’t over yet…

When Abbie met Oz they were young, idealistic students from different backgrounds, but their connection was unmistakable. Then Oz went home to Istanbul and life moved on.

Years later, Abbie and Oz meet again – a chance encounter that could change everything.

Despite leading very different lives, they find themselves drawn to each other once more. But they have commitments, jobs and families that take priority – and too much time has passed… Hasn’t it?


Chestnut Lane by Anna Jacobs

When novelist Sophie Carr rescues a man from a group of paparazzi, she finds that her new neighbour is ageing pop star Jez Winter. She has loved his music for years and knows he has had a tough time lately, with a violent intruder and then a car accident putting his ability to play music at risk. Life’s not been easy for Sophie either, losing her husband just as she was taking off as a novelist and having her hands full with her children. While Jez and Sophie’s families continue to complicate their lives, Sophie also has a secret to hide. One that makes her very wary of getting involved with Jez ..


Love Life by Nancy Peach

Dr Tess Carter is no starry-eyed heroine. After all, if your dad left without a backward glance you wouldn’t believe in romance either. And the voices in Tess’s head – you know, the ones that tell you you’re not good enough, not pretty enough, not clever enough – well, these voices are very loud. Very loud indeed. Especially when the disagreeable son of one of her patients starts challenging her every decision.

Edward Russell might have a big job and a posh voice, but Tess is determined not to let him get to her. And Edward, it turns out, may be less of a grump than he first appears…

In the real world, where gentlemanlike manners and out-of-the-blue declarations of love are a story-book fantasy, it’s up to Tess to decide whose voice to listen to … and how to make her own heard.


Windswept and Interesting by Billy Connolly

Born in a tenement flat in Glasgow in 1942, orphaned by the age of 4, and a survivor of appalling abuse at the hands of his own family, Billy’s life is a remarkable story of success against all the odds.

Billy found his escape first as an apprentice welder in the shipyards of the River Clyde. Later he became a folk musician – a ‘rambling man’ – with a genuine talent for playing the banjo. But it was his ability to spin stories, tell jokes and hold an audience in the palm of his hand that truly set him apart.

As a young comedian Billy broke all the rules. He was fearless and outspoken – willing to call out hypocrisy wherever he saw it. But his stand-up was full of warmth, humility and silliness too. His startling, hairy ‘glam-rock’ stage appearance – wearing leotards, scissor suits and banana boots – only added to his appeal.

It was an appearance on Michael Parkinson’s chat show in 1975 – and one outrageous story in particular – that catapulted Billy from cult hero to national star. TV shows, documentaries, international fame and award-winning Hollywood movies followed. Billy’s pitch-perfect stand-up comedy kept coming too – for over 50 years, in fact – until a double diagnosis of cancer and Parkinson’s Disease brought his remarkable live performances to an end. Since then he has continued making TV shows, creating extraordinary drawings… and writing.


Sunrises to Santiago by Gabriel Schirm

After spending his 20s traveling the world and hopping from job to job, Gabriel Schirm was lost. At 32 years old, he desperately needed to find direction and meaningful purpose in his life. With no physical training, he decided his answers were waiting for him somewhere along the historic 490-mile pilgrimage route called the Camino de Santiago in Spain. From the physical high of crossing the Pyrenees Mountains to the mind numbing rhythm of walking through the endless wheat fields of the Meseta, the route was filled with many challenges. Accompanied by his “guru” wife Amy, Schirm faces setbacks like bed bugs and tendinitis, all in the pursuit of elusive answers. The lessons came from the serendipitous experiences and conversations with fellow pilgrims from all over the world. Sunrises to Santiago chronicles a wondrous journey of personal growth, physical pain, and outdoor adventure while teaching us all to enjoy life’s incredible journey.


Falling in Louvre by Fiona Leitch

Bertrand is King of the Pigeons…

Unofficially. From his perch atop a gargoyle on Notre Dame cathedral, he surveys his kingdom. He sees Sylvie Cloutier, art lover and ex-antiques dealer, making dinner for her bullying husband Henri, trapped in their loveless marriage like a bird in a gilded cage. He sees security guard, hopeless romantic and bookworm Philippe Moreau cycling through the streets of Paris in his crumpled uniform, late (again) for his night shift at the museum.

When Sylvie begs her husband to let her go to work, he gets her a job as an evening cleaner at the Louvre. He thinks such a menial position will dispel any ideas about independence she might have, but his plan backfires when she falls in love with kind, gentle Philippe. They decide to run away together, but there’s a major problem: neither of them has any money.

One stormy night in the Louvre, the answer to their prayers falls into their lap… But is it really the solution, or just another, even bigger problem?

What follows is a romantic, wistful but madcap adventure through (and under) the city of lights, involving a stolen painting, an art heist in reverse, and Eric Cantona. Will love find a way?


A Woman Made of Snow by Elisabeth Gifford

Scotland, 1949: Caroline Gillan and her new husband Alasdair have moved back to Kelly Castle, his dilapidated family estate in the middle of nowhere. Stuck caring for their tiny baby, and trying to find her way with an opinionated mother-in-law, Caroline feels adrift, alone and unwelcome.

But when she is tasked with sorting out the family archives, Caroline discovers a century-old mystery that sparks her back to life. There is one Gillan bride who is completely unknown – no photos exist, no records have been kept – the only thing that is certain is that she had a legitimate child. Alasdair’s grandmother.

As Caroline uncovers a strange story that stretches as far as the Arctic circle, her desire to find the truth turns obsessive. And when a body is found in the grounds of the castle, her hunt becomes more than just a case of curiosity. What happened all those years ago? Who was the bride? And who is the body…?


The Book Club by Kate McCabe

Looking for a way to pass the cold winter nights – and take her mind off her lying ex – Marian Hunt decides to start a book club. And pretty soon, it begins to take off …

Christy Grimes thinks the book club will help his beloved wife in her recovery from a stroke, but little does he know the effect it will have on him.

Liz Broderick hopes the book club will distract her from her grief. But a greater distraction than books lies in store.

Caught up in working hard to support his ex-wife, Matt Bollinger reckons the book club will be a good way to meet new people. But while romance beckons, sabotage is not far behind.

Disgraced poet Nick Barry is in search of the perfect story to relaunch his career, and he expects the book club will be the perfect place for some market research. But Nick finds a bigger story than he bargained for.

With sadness, joy, money, sex, betrayal – and a few novels thrown in for good measure – those cold winter nights are about to heat up…


Make Yourself at Home by Ciara Geraghty

Marianne left home when she was fifteen following a family tragedy, one that changed all their lives. She never planned to return.

But when her carefully controlled life falls apart, she has no choice but to return to Ancaire, the ramshackle house overlooking the Irish Sea, where her mother, Rita, a flamboyant artist and recovering alcoholic still lives.

As her mother invites her to pull up a chair and make herself at home, alongside the friends, family and neighbours who wander its rooms. Marianne discovers that sometimes home isn’t a house, it’s a place in your heart.

Set on the wild Irish coast, with an unforgettable cast of characters, this deeply emotional novel is full of Ciara Geraghty’s trademark heart and poignancy.


Where the Dead Fall by M J Lee

One chance encounter, one murder, will change everything.

DI Thomas Ridpath is in the process of getting his life back together when everything goes wrong. Caught in a gruesome motorway incident, one question remains: why did nobody else see what happened?

Ridpath’s investigations soon pulls the police force itself into question, and hints at something even more sinister.

With Manchester on the brink of violence unlike anything seen in decades, Ridpath must battle this unprecedented conflict alongside his own demons…


Win by Harlan Coben

Over twenty years ago, heiress Patricia Lockwood was abducted during a robbery of her family’s estate, then locked inside an isolated cabin for months. Patricia escaped, but so did her captors, and the items stolen from her family were never recovered.

Until now.

On New York’s Upper West Side, a recluse is found murdered in his penthouse apartment, alongside two objects of note: a stolen Vermeer painting and a leather suitcase bearing the initials WHL3. For the first time in years, the authorities have a lead not only on Patricia’s kidnapping but also on another FBI cold case – with the suitcase and painting both pointing them towards one man.

Windsor Horne Lockwood III – or Win as his few friends call him – doesn’t know how his suitcase and his family’s stolen painting ended up in this dead man’s apartment. But he’s interested – especially when the FBI tell him that the man who kidnapped his cousin was also behind an act of domestic terrorism, and that he may still be at large.

The two cases have baffled the FBI for decades. But Win has three things the FBI does not:: a personal connection to the case, a large fortune, and his own unique brand of justice …


Maybe One Day by Debbie Johnson

What if you had the chance to find a lost love?

Jess still thinks about the man who disappeared from her life seventeen years ago, and the tragedy that tore them apart. So when she discovers a hidden box of letters in her mother’s attic, Jess realises that the truth about why he walked away has been kept from her all this time.

Jess sets out to follow the faded postmarks across the country, determined that her journey will bring her closer to him. As each clue falls into place, Jess discovers new things about herself – and the man who once broke her heart. Maybe she can find him. Maybe their love story isn’t over.

Maybe one day, they will be together again…


If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin

My name is Constance Little.
This is my love story.
But this isn’t the way it was supposed to end.

After fleeing Manchester for London, Constance attempts to put past tragedies behind her and make a fresh start. When she embarks on a relationship with the new doctor at the medical practice where she works, she’s convinced she’s finally found the love and security she craves.

Then he ends it.

But if life has taught her anything, it’s that if you love someone, you should never let them go.

That’s why for Constance Little, her obsession is only just beginning . . .


Dead Wrong by Noelle Holten

The serial killer is behind bars. But the murders are just beginning…

DC Maggie Jamieson’s past comes back to haunt her in this dark and gripping serial killer thriller.

Three missing women running out of time…
 
They were abducted years ago. Notorious serial killer Bill Raven admitted to killing them and was sentenced to life.

The case was closed – at least DC Maggie Jamieson thought it was…
 
But now one of them has been found, dismembered and dumped in a bin bag in town.

Forensics reveal that she died just two days ago, when Raven was behind bars, so Maggie has a second killer to find.
 
Because even if the other missing women are still alive, one thing’s for certain: they don’t have long left to live…


Little Wing by Freya North

1969. Florence Lawson, a 16-year-old schoolgirl who dreams of being an artist, finds herself pregnant and banished to one of the most remote parts of the UK.

1986. Dougie Munro, searching for adventure, leaves the Isle of Harris – the island of his birth – for art college and a career in London as a photographer.

2005. Nell Hartley, content with her life managing a care-in-the-community cafe in Colchester, discovers a shocking truth about her family.

Between the sprawl of London, suburban Essex, and the wild, unpredictable Outer Hebrides, three lives collide and interweave as questions are asked and secrets surface. What happened to Florence? Why is Dougie now so reluctant to return home? How can Nell make peace with the lies she’s been told?

Little Wing is a novel about resilience, forgiveness and the true meaning of family, about finding one’s place in the world and discovering how we all belong somewhere and to someone.


Subscription Books

Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia (NB Magazine Sub)

Five generations of women, linked by blood and circumstance, by the secrets they share, and by a single book passed down through a family, with an affirmation scrawled in its margins: We are force. We are more than we think we are.

1866, Cuba: María Isabel is the only woman employed at a cigar factory, where each day the workers find strength in daily readings of Victor Hugo. But these are dangerous political times, and as María begins to see marriage and motherhood as her only options, the sounds of war are approaching.

1959, Cuba: Dolores watches her husband make for the mountains in answer to Fidel Castro’s call to arms. What Dolores knows, though, is that to survive, she must win her own war, and commit an act of violence that threatens to destroy her daughter Carmen’s world.

2016, Miami: Carmen, still wrestling with the trauma of displacement, is shocked when her daughter Jeanette announces her plans to travel to Cuba to see her grandmother Dolores. In the walls of her crumbling home lies a secret, one that will link Jeanette to her past, and to this fearless line of women.

From nineteenth-century cigar factories to present-day detention centres, from Cuba to the United States to Mexico, Gabriela Garcia’s Of Women and Salt follows Latina women of fierce pride, bound by the stories passed between them. It is a haunting meditation on the choices of mothers and the tenacity of women who choose to tell their truth despite those who wish to silence them.


Farewell to Herring by L C Tyler (Capital Crime extra)

Ethelred Tressider and his agent Elsie Thirkettle have been invited to lecture on a creative writing course at Fell Hall, a remote location in the heart of ragged countryside that even sheep are keen to shun. While Ethelred’s success as a writer is distinctly average, Elsie sees this as an opportunity to scout for new, hopefully more lucrative, talent. But heavy snow falls overnight, trapping those early arrivals inside, and tensions are quick to emerge between the assembled group.
When one of their number goes missing, Ethelred leads a search party and makes a gruesome discovery. With no phone signal and no hope of summoning the police, can Ethelred and Elsie identify the killer among them before one of them is next?


Welcome to Cooper by Tariq Ashkanani (Capital Crime sub)

In this explosive thriller of bad choices and dark crimes, Detective Levine knew his transfer was a punishment—but he had no idea just how bad it would get.

Cooper, Nebraska, is forgettable and forgotten, a town you’d only stumble into if you’d taken a seriously wrong turn. Like Detective Thomas Levine’s career has. But when a young woman is found lying in the snow, choked to death, her eyes gouged out, the disgraced detective is Cooper’s only hope for restoring peace and justice.

For Levine, still grieving and guilt-ridden over the death of his girlfriend, his so-called “transfer” from the big city to this grubby backwater has always felt like a punishment. And when his irascible new partner shoots their prime suspect using Levine’s gun, all hope of redemption is shattered. With the case in chaos, and both blackmail and a violent drug cartel to contend with, he finds himself in a world of trouble.

It gets worse. The real killer is still out there, and he’s got plans for Detective Levine. And Cooper may just be the perfect place to get away with murder.


The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel (Capital Crime sub)

Sometimes it’s better not to ask questions. Sometimes it’s better not to know.

Eve Taggert’s life has been spent steadily climbing away from her roots. Her mother, a hard and cruel woman who dragged her up in a rundown trailer park, was not who she wanted to be to her own daughter, Junie.

But 12-year old Junie is now dead. Found next to the body of her best friend in the park of their small, broken town. Eve has nothing left but who she used to be.

Despite the corrupt police force that patrol her dirt-poor town deep in the Missouri Ozarks, Eve is going to find what happened to her daughter. Even if it means using her own mother’s cruel brand of strength to unearth secrets that don’t want to be discovered and face truths it might be better not to know.

Everyone is a suspect.

Everyone has something to hide.

And someone will answer for her daughter’s murder.


The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean (Capital Crime sub)

He is her husband. She is his captive.

Her husband calls her Jane. That is not her name.

She lives in a small farm cottage, surrounded by vast, open fields. Everywhere she looks, there is space. But she is trapped. No one knows how she got to the UK: no one knows she is there. Visitors rarely come to the farm; if they do, she is never seen.

Her husband records her every movement during the day. If he doesn’t like what he sees, she is punished.

For a long time, escape seemed impossible. But now, something has changed. She has a reason to live and a reason to fight. Now, she is watching him, and waiting . . .


Books I Read

A Clean Sweep by Audrey Davis

Love comes around when you least expect it. Fifty-something widow Emily isn’t looking for romance. Nor is she expecting a hunky twenty-something chimney sweep on her doorstep.

Daughter Tabitha knows her relationship isn’t quite right, while her boss – Abba-loving Meryl – thinks she’s found the real deal.

Emily’s sister Celeste has the perfect marriage. Or does she?

Susan is single, overweight and resigned to a life of loneliness. There was the one who got away, but second chances are for other people.

Buckle up for a rollercoaster ride of emotions in a book that will grab, your heart, make you smile and wish you had a chimney to sweep.


City of Buried Ghosts by Chris Lloyd

Still recovering from the tragedy that hit her team, Elisenda takes on a new case. Except it’s not new. On an archaeological dig by the coast a body is uncovered, seemingly executed with a spike thrust through the front of the skull – an ancient tribal ritual. It soon becomes clear that this body is neither ancient nor modern, but a mysterious corpse from the 1980s.

Assigned to the case along with her team, Elisenda soon uncovers a complex world of star archaeologists, jealousy and missing persons. They find a dark trade in illicit antiquities, riddled with vicious professional rivalries. And even though she’s staying  close to the crime scene, Elisenda is also never far from enemies of her own within the police force.

Just as the case seems to become clear it is blown wide-open by another horrific murder. Elisenda must fight her personal demons and office politics, whilst continuing to uncover plots and hatreds that were long buried. How far will she go to solve the crime? Is her place in the force secure? And can she rebuild her life?


The First Time We Met by Jo Lovett

What if you met The One on his wedding day?

Izzy doesn’t believe in love at first sight, but when Sam walks into the cafe where she works one cold December morning, she knows without a doubt that he’s The One. Too bad Sam’s getting married. Today.

Nearly a year later, Izzy still can’t stop thinking about Sam, the one that got away, but she knows it’s time to move on: he’s a married man and probably wouldn’t recognise her if he passed her on the street.

But Sam has never forgotten Izzy, the funny, gorgeous woman who asked him out on his wedding day. If the timing had only been better, he knows they could have had something wonderful.

When Izzy and Sam’s paths finally cross again, everything has changed. But with the Atlantic Ocean and decades of baggage between them, they are about to find out whether some obstacles are too big for even true love to overcome.


Conditional Love by Cathy Bramley

What surprises might life have in store for you?

A takeaway, TV and tea with two sugars is about as exciting as it gets for thirty-something Sophie Stone. Sophie’s life is safe and predictable, which is just the way she likes it, thank you very much.

But when a mysterious benefactor leaves her an inheritance, Sophie has to accept that change is afoot. There is one big catch: in order to inherit, Sophie must agree to meet the father she has never seen.

Saying ‘yes’ means the chance to build her own dream home, but she’ll also have to face the past and hear some uncomfortable truths…

With interference from an evil boss, warring parents, an unreliable boyfriend and an architect who puts his foot in it every time he opens his mouth, will Sophie be able to build a future on her own terms – and maybe even find love along the way?


Chestnut Lane by Anna Jacobs

When novelist Sophie Carr rescues a man from a group of paparazzi, she finds that her new neighbour is ageing pop star Jez Winter. She has loved his music for years and knows he has had a tough time lately, with a violent intruder and then a car accident putting his ability to play music at risk. Life’s not been easy for Sophie either, losing her husband just as she was taking off as a novelist and having her hands full with her children. While Jez and Sophie’s families continue to complicate their lives, Sophie also has a secret to hide. One that makes her very wary of getting involved with Jez ..


I Know What You’ve Done by Dorothy Koomson

What if all your neighbours’ secrets landed in a diary on your doorstep?

What if the woman who gave it to you was murdered by one of the people in the diary?

What if the police asked if you knew anything?

Would you hand over the book of secrets?

Or … would you try to find out what everyone had done?


City of Girls

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

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


The Day We Met by Roxie Cooper

Stephanie and Jamie are meant to be. The problem is they’re both with other people…

Stephanie doesn’t believe in fate, true love or living happily ever after. She’s content enough being engaged to Matt. But then she meets Jamie, who understands her more than anyone else ever has.

Jamie is happily married to his childhood sweetheart Helen and believes in everything Stephanie doesn’t. So why does he have such a strong connection with Stephanie?

When Stephanie and Jamie meet one fateful weekend in 2006 it will change everything…

Ten years. Two people. One epic love story.


The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

Sometimes you have to start with what’s lost to truly find yourself…

Motherless and irrepressibly curious, Esme spends her childhood at her father’s feet as he and his team gather words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary.

One day, she sees a slip of paper containing a forgotten word flutter to the floor unclaimed.

And so Esme begins to collect words for another dictionary in secret: The Dictionary of Lost Words. But to do so she must journey into a world on the cusp of change as the Great War looms and women fight for the vote. Can the power of lost words from the past finally help her make sense of her future?


Dog Rose Dirt by Jen Williams

What if your mother had been writing to a serial killer?

A convicted murderer with a story to tell
 
Serial killer Michael Reave – known as The Red Wolf – has been locked in Belmarsh Prison for over 20 years for the brutal and ritualistic murders of countless women.
 
A grieving daughter with a secret to unearth
 
Ex-journalist Heather Evans returns to her childhood home after her mother’s inexplicable suicide and discovers something chilling – hundreds of letters between her mother and Reave, dating back decades.
 
A hunt for a killer ready to strike again

When the body of a woman is found decorated with flowers, just like his victims, Reave is the only person alive who could help. After years of silence, he will speak to Heather, and only Heather.

If she wants to unearth the truth and stop further bloodshed, she’ll have to confront a monster.


Dancers in the Wind by Anne Coates

SHE IS HUNTING FOR THE TRUTH, BUT WHO IS HUNTING HER?

Freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is commissioned by a national newspaper to write an investigative article on the notorious red light district in Kings Cross. There she meets prostitute Princess, and police inspector in the vice squad, Tom Jordan.
When Princess later arrives on her doorstep beaten up so badly she is barely recognisable, Hannah has to make some tough decisions and is drawn ever deeper into the world of deceit and violence. Three sex workers are murdered, their deaths covered up in a media blackout, and Hannah herself is under threat.
As she comes to realise that the taste for vice reaches into the higher echelons of the great and the good, Hannah realises she must do everything in her power to expose the truth …. and stay alive.


Just the Way You Are by Beth Moran

When Olivia Tennyson – or Ollie to her friends – was sixteen, she wrote a Dream List of all the things she wanted for her life, including a happy marriage and a family. But at twenty-nine, Ollie is single, living at home with her over-protective and manipulative mother, and is feeling like her dreams are getting further out of reach.

It’s time for a change. 

It’s time to take matters into her own hands. 

Without telling her mum, or more importantly, asking her permission, Ollie finds the perfect place to start her new life. End Cottage has a duck-egg blue front door, a garden that leads to acres of forest, and definitely counts as her dream home.

Now all Ollie has to do is complete the rest of her list and find out who she really is, before she can imagine any romance coming into her life. After all, how is she going to find her dream man in the middle of a forest… 


Coming Home to Holly Close Farm by Julie Houston

Charlie Maddison loves being an architect in London, but when she finds out her boyfriend, Dominic, is actually married, she runs back to the beautiful countryside of Westenbury and her parents. Charlie’s sister Daisy, a landscape gardener, is also back home in desperate need of company and some fun.

Their great-grandmother, Madge – now in her early nineties – reveals she has a house, Holly Close Farm, mysteriously abandoned over sixty years ago, and persuades the girls to project manage its renovation.

As work gets underway, the sisters start uncovering their family’s history, and the dark secrets that are hidden at the Farm. A heart-breaking tale of wartime romance, jealousy and betrayal slowly emerges, but with a moral at its end: true love can withstand any obstacle, and, before long, Charlie dares to believe in love again too…


Before We Grow Old by Clare Swatman

When seven-year-old Fran first met Will they knew instantly that they were made for each other. For eleven years they were inseparable, but then, at the age of eighteen, Will just upped and disappeared.

Twenty-five years later Will is back.

Is fate trying to give them a second chance?

Still nursing the heart break from all those years ago, Fran is reluctant to give Will the time of day. The price Will must pay is to tell the truth – the truth about why he left, the truth about why he’s back…

And Fran has her own secrets to hide. The time has come to decide what Fran and Will really want from life – before it’s too late.


Care For Me by Farah Cook

When Amira takes her mother Afrah to Ravenswood Lodge Care Home, she thinks they will both be safe. But the past is just around the corner . . .

Amira is struggling to look after her mother, Afrah. So when they arrive at Ravenswood Lodge Care Home, beautiful and imposing against the background of the Scottish Highlands, she hopes it is the right decision for them both.

But soon Afrah insists her belongings are being stolen, her photographs, her jewellery, her pill boxes, Amira and the staff are convinced it’s just Afrah’s imagination, it’s just her memory.

But Afrah knows Ravenswood Lodge isn’t a safe place. Could it have something to do with the past? She remembers newspaper clippings, hazy images of a fire years ago, a memory she’s spent years forgetting and now she just wants to remember.

Someone wants her gone. But first, she needs to convince Amira of the truth.


Dead Inside by Noelle Holten

The killer is just getting started…

When three wife beaters are themselves found beaten to death, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she is facing her toughest case yet.

The police suspect that Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood – who is connected to all three victims – is hiding a dark secret. Then a fourth domestic abuser is brutally murdered.

And he is Lucy’s husband.

Now the police are running out of time, but can Maggie really believe her friend Lucy is a cold-blooded killer?


So how did I do with my reading intentions?

A-Z Clearance Reading Challenge, This Month C & D

TitleFormatDate purchased
Clean Sweep, AKindleAug 2017
City of Buried GhostsKindleAug 2019
Conditional LoveKindleApl 2014
City of GirlsKindleOct 2020
Care for MeBookDec 2021
Day we Met, TheKindleMar 2019
Dictionary of Lost Words, The KindleAug 2021
Dog Rose DirtBookJan 2022
Dancers in the WindKindleJan 2017
Dead InsideKindleOct 2018

Wading Through Treacle or Weeding the Shelves (real and virtual)

Unread ebooksUnread Tree Books
Start of Month3966765
Items Added215
Items Removed-59-3
Items Read-14-2
End of Month3914765

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

 

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