My Bookish Month – October 2022

Well October was a good month for me. Five on Friday re-appeared (hurray), I bought books like there was no tomorrow (again) and I attended a real live book event!

I always knew that the book buying was probably going to be off the scale again, in addition to the Kindle ‘Spend £10 get £5 credit’ offer, my daily ‘bargains’ post means I’m always on the lookout for books and invariably buy a fair few myself. That said, this month’s mammoth list of 37 additions only cost me £22.67 (including the £5 credit) for books which are currently costed at £104.67!! It’s also starting to look like Christmas, I say that latter in the context of Christmassy books being published. Consequently I’m also starting to splurge on Christmassy reads. That also reminds me that I need to pull my finger out to put my annual Christmas Reads feature together. I’ve done most of the donkey work (no pun intended) in getting a list of titles together, but to be honest, that’s the easy bit. I’m hoping mid-late November should see it making an appearance.

My Kindle Unlimited subscription ran until the end of the month so I made the most of that by listening to more audiobooks and continuing to indulge my passion for billionaire CEO’s and bad boy rock stars. Romance remained my go to reading choice for the month and I’m getting pretty strict about having a HEA (Happy Ever After for the uninitiated) I’ve been duped a few times with endings I definitely wasn’t happy with. I’m looking for a happy escape from the real world I don’t need unhappiness in my books as well! In addition to my Kindle Unlimited reading I also managed an additional 8 more books from my existing tbr so not too shabby.

Having had a break over my holidays I was back in business mode re Five on Friday and have been busily sending out invites, happily the acceptances and indeed the completed responses are starting to come back already. I’ve been pondering over whether it’s time to maybe rethink some of the questions, but then again I also think if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Maybe I’ll keep pondering a while longer.

I attended a lovely book launch at the end of the month for local author Susi Osborne. This was to celebrate her latest novel Happiness is a Thing with Wings and you can see my write up here.

So that was my month in a nutshell. Looking forward to seeing how my plans pan out for November – that’ll be those plans that went off the rail several months ago

Books I Bought this Month

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

Odd Hours by Ania Bas

Meet Gosia.

She’s a sensitive soul with a filthy mind and problems with intimacy.

Between shifts in a well-lit budget supermarket and nights in a badly lit Zone 3 flatshare, she spends hours inside her own head. That is, until a chance encounter snaps her out of her reverie.

Propelled into a series of mediocre jobs, lousy dates and even worse sex, the prickly yet warm-hearted Gosia begins her excavation of the ‘perfect’ life so many dream of.

After all, could there be more to it than she imagined?

Raw, funny, mean and moving, Odd Hours is a razor-sharp social comedy about human connection, unexpected happiness, and the many forms of love.

The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss

On the first day of Christmas, a dating app offered me
Twelve tailored chances for perfect harmony . . .


Kate Turner is happily single – a bit too happily, in fact. Since returning to her hometown, the sleepy village of Blexford, love hasn’t really had a look in.

But Kate does love Christmas. So when her best friend insists she signs up to the Twelve Dates of Christmas, a brand new dating app service, she doesn’t need too much persuading. Twelve perfect festive dates with the area’s most eligible men – who could say no?

Amongst the twinkling lights and falling snow, over hot chocolates and glasses of red wine, romance is easy to find. But with each date, Kate learns more about the men, and even more about herself.

As the big day approaches, Kate’s left wondering – is it really the season for true love, or will this Christmas be the coldest yet?

Someone Like You by Rachel Dove

One broken marriage. One broken heart. One chance to meet someone new.

Hannah leaves her unhappy marriage with her daughter Ava and moves to the village of Leadsham to start afresh. She plans to keep a low profile, focusing on Ava and making a new life for them, far away from her violent ex-husband.

What she hadn’t counted on was Andrew Brody. A police officer with a strict moral code, he knows something’s wrong as soon as he meets Hannah, and he wants to help. But Hannah has been let down by the police – and men – before, and pushes him away.

But the more Hannah tries to ignore Brody, the more she’s drawn to him. Caring, kind and patient, he’s nothing like the man she’s running from. Can Hannah finally put her past behind her, and open her heart to someone new?

The Worst Christmas Ever? by Rebecca Paulinyi

Can the magic of the Christmas season be rediscovered in a small Devon town?

When Shirley ‘Lee’ Jones returns home from an awful day at the office, the last thing she expects to find is her husband in bed with another woman. Six weeks until Christmas, and Lee finds the life she had so carefully planned has been utterly decimated.

Hurt, angry and confused, Lee makes a whirlwind decision to drive her problems away and ends up in Totnes, an eccentric town in the heart of Devon. As Christmas approaches, Lee tries to figure out what path her life will follow now, as she looks at it from the perspective of a soon-to-be 31-year-old divorcée.

Can she ever return to her normal life? Or is a new reality – and a new man – on the horizon?

Finding herself and flirting with the handsome local police officer might just make this the best Christmas ever.

Driving Home for Christmas by Joanna Bolouri

THREE CHRISTMASES. TWO BROKEN HEARTS. ONE HELL OF A JOURNEY.

Driving home marks the start of the holidays for Kate and Ed, who have made this journey every Christmas of their ten-year long relationship. Normally the seasonal hits blare from the car stereo, and they are guaranteed to be wearing ridiculous jumpers in anticipation, but this year a frosty silence fills the car…

A massive argument leads to the immediate collapse of their relationship. But the show must go on, so they decide to brave their families together one last time.

With three Christmases to celebrate, an old flame waiting under the mistletoe and a shed load of expectation around their future together, this most wonderful time of year is anything but. There will be turkey, tiffs and tantrums galore, but it’s sure to be a Christmas they’ll never forget.

Keeping a Christmas Promise by Jo Thomas

One Icelandic Christmas holiday. One snowstorm. An adventure they’ll never forget!

Twenty-five years ago, Freya and her three best friends created a bucket list. The future seemed bright and full of hope . . . But now they are travelling to Iceland in memory of the friend they’ve lost, determined to fulfil her dream of seeing the Northern Lights at Christmas.

They didn’t count on an avalanche leaving them stranded! Handsome local, Pétur, comes to the rescue, showing them how the community survives the hard winter. With Christmas approaching, Freya and her friends throw themselves into the festivities, decorating and cooking for the villagers using delicious local ingredients.

But will they manage to see the Northern Lights? And can Freya’s own dreams come true, this Christmas?

Strictly Come Dating by Kathryn Freeman

Saturday nights are strictly for dancing… 

As the glitter ball shimmers and sequins flash, forty-year-old Maggie remembers the pull of the dancefloor.  But now, as a newly divorced mum of two, Maggie’s certain her dancing days are over.  Or are they…?

Encouraged by her friends, Maggie dusts off her silver stilettoes and enrols for dancing classes, all she needs now is the perfect partner.

Enter Seb.  Young, carefree and hot as hell, Seb is definitely a perfect 10!  Even though everything about him is outrageously inappropriate! But as Seb sweeps her across the dancefloor every week, Maggie begins to see a new side to him; kind, caring, funny, strong. 

And Maggie realises that he’s the only one she’d like to foxtrot with…perhaps even forever?

An Island Summer by Helena Halme

Three women, three love affairs at the crossroads:

One is betrayed, again.

One falls for the wrong guy.

One for the right one, but 40 years too late.

After taking over her late stepfather’s farm, Alicia finds shocking evidence of a crime. After she confides in her lover, the Swedish journalist Patrick, he realises what a scoop she’s given him. Will he sacrifice her happiness for his personal ambition?

Frida could not have found love with anyone more unsuitable than Andrei. He’s come to the islands to find out the truth about the demise of his younger brother Daniel. And he’s likely to find out the truth about what happened between Frida and Daniel.

As the summer on the islands heats up, Alicia’s ex-husband, Liam makes an appearance. Alicia’s mother, Hilda, also finds romance, but can she trust a man she vowed never to see again some forty years earlier?

Set on the Åland Islands which lie between Finland and Sweden, An Island Summer has true intrigue, grown-up love stories, and stunning Scandinavian scenery.

Baby It’s Cold Outside by Emily Bell

FATE PULLED THEM APART BUT NOT BEFORE THEY MADE A PROMISE.

TEN CHRISTMASES LATER, WILL THEIR WISH COME TRUE? . . .

As Norah battles through the bustling December crowds, she hears the notes of a song that transports her back to the most romantic week of her life.

After meeting on a blissful holiday, but knowing they had to part, a boy named Andrew made her a promise:

If they are both single on Christmas Eve in ten years’ time, they will meet under the clock on Grafton Street, Dublin.

Norah has no idea if he will remember, but she has nothing to lose.

So, hoping for a Christmas miracle, she heads to Dublin. To that clock. And, maybe, to Andrew.

But it wouldn’t be Christmas without a few surprises . . .

Before I Do by Sophie Cousens

What would you do if the one that got away turned up the night before your wedding?

Audrey is marrying Josh; steady, dependable Josh, the love of her life. They share a flat and a bank account, and it’s the only relationship that Audrey’s ever had that feels like something she can put her trust in. But romance should be full of fireworks, and as the big day approaches, Audrey’s found herself wondering if Josh really is ‘the one’.

So, when Josh’s sister Miranda arrives at their rehearsal dinner with Fred – Audrey’s ‘What If?’ guy, the man she met six years ago and had one amazing day with but never saw again – Audrey can’t help but see it as a sign.

Surely Fred’s appearance the night before Audrey is due to get married can’t be a coincidence. And when everything that could go wrong with the wedding starts to go wrong, Audrey has to wonder: could fate be trying to stop her from making a huge mistake?

The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston

Florence Day is a ghost-writer with one big problem. She’s supposed to be penning swoon-worthy novels for a famous romance author but, after a bad break-up, Florence no longer believes in love. And when her strict (but undeniably hot) new editor, Benji Andor, won’t give her an extension on her book deadline, Florence prepares to kiss her career goodbye.

Although when tragedy strikes and Florence has to head home, the last thing she expects to see is a ghost at her front door. Not just any ghost, however, but the stern form of her still very hot – yet now unquestionably dead – new editor.

As sparks start to fly between them, Florence tells herself she can’t be falling for a ghost – even an infuriatingly sexy one. But can Benji help Florence to realise love isn’t dead, after all?

The Mortification of Grace Wheeler by Colette Dartford

A stale marriage, an illicit affair. Who pays the price?

Faced with an empty nest when her only child goes to university, the flaws in Grace’s marriage are sharply exposed. Finding excuses to escape the taut atmosphere at home, she is drawn into an affair that ignites a mid-life sexual awakening.

But when her secret is discovered there is a terrible price to pay, and Grace is not the only one who pays it.

A compelling and emotional read, The Mortification of Grace Wheeler shines a spotlight on a marriage in crisis, the challenges of being a middle-aged woman, and the fear that your best years are behind you.

The Pre-Loved Club by Sue Teddern

Ned is in IKEA with his wife when she breaks the news that it’s over.
For Gemma, it happens on the way to get fish and chips, when she opens the glove compartment of her husband’s car to find a pair of women’s sunglasses that aren’t hers.

For both, it’s a bolt from the blue that rocks their faith in the world, relationships, and themselves. But you can’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself, especially when there are children involved, so both – for very different reasons – join a support group for single parents.

It’s fair to say they don’t exactly hit it off.

However, as Ned and Gemma know from bitter experience, life is full of surprises, and as they navigate their respective brave new worlds, it’s possible they have more in common than either might have suspected, including – but not limited to – excess emotional baggage, low self-esteem, and the ability to take something promising and well and truly screw it up . . .

The Cottage of New Beginnings by Suzanne Snow

One crumbling cottage. One broken heart. A chance to start over?

When Annie returns to Thorndale, the village where she spent much of her childhood, she’s looking for a new start. All she wants to do is fix up the cottage her godmother left her, and fix up her broken heart.

When she clashes with local hero, Jon, Annie can’t help but wonder if coming back to Thorndale was a mistake. The village has clearly changed and the last thing she needs is more drama. But avoiding the distractingly handsome Jon is proving impossible, especially when Thorndale seems to be conspiring to throw them together…

Annie is looking for a fresh start with zero romance – but what if the only way to learn to trust again is to take a risk on love?

Holiday Romance by Catherine Walsh

She’s meant to be catching flights, not catching feelings…

Molly and Andrew are just trying to get home to Ireland for the holidays, when a freak snowstorm grounds their flight.

Nothing romantic has ever happened between them: they’re friends and that’s all. But once a year, for the last ten years, Molly has spent seven hours and fifteen minutes sitting next to Andrew on the last flight before Christmas from Chicago to Dublin, drinking terrible airplane wine and catching up on each other’s lives. In spite of all the ways the two friends are different, it’s the holiday tradition neither of them has ever wanted to give up.

Molly isn’t that bothered by Christmas, but—in yet another way they’re total opposites—Andrew is a full-on fanatic for the festive season and she knows how much getting back to Ireland means to him. So, instead of doing the sane thing and just celebrating the holidays together in America, she does the stupid thing. The irrational thing. She vows to get him home. And in time for his mam’s famous Christmas dinner.

The clock is ticking. But Molly always has a plan. And—as long as the highly-specific combination of taxis, planes, boats, and trains all run on time—it can’t possibly go wrong.

What she doesn’t know is that, as the snow falls over the city and over the heads of two friends who are sure they’re not meant to be together, the universe might just have a plan of its own…

No, We Can’t Be Friends by Sophie Ranald

He was perfect. Denim-blue eyes, a dazzling smile. And he hadn’t sent me a picture of his junk. Which is about as rare, these days, as a Dodo.

When Sloane met Myles, everything fell into place. He loved a Martini almost as much as she did, shared her passion for four-cheese pizzas, and made her laugh harder than any episode of Friends. She’d found The One at last and she could finally delete Tinder, forgetting all those waste-of-space men she’d never have to date again.

But then she finds out that Myles has a secret. A very big one.

The fairytale is over. Her heart is blown to smithereens. Drowning her sorrows in Ben & Jerry’s can only get Sloane so far before she has to decide… Can she learn to love herself more than she loved the love of her life? And what if, after everything, she’s got Myles – and his secret – all wrong?

Santa, Please Bring Me a Boyfriend by Sophie Ranald

As snowflakes fall like icing sugar, I smile at him and feel an unmistakeable spark. And I realise I don’t just fancy the (taut, muscular) arse off this man – a man who probably doesn’t even know I exist – but I actually like him…

This Christmas, Rowan has a long list for Santa:

  • To get her sex life out of the Sahara
  • To stop being the lonely singleton in her friendship group (aka the prime target for blind dates that go horribly wrong)
  • To find out where her confidence went (note to self: check under sofa)
  • To have someone to curl up with this Christmas, other than a tin of Quality Street

But having had more than her fair share of heartbreak thanks to her ex – with more off-agains and on-agains than Rachel and Ross – she’s starting to think that real love is just wishful thinking…

But Rowan’s friends aren’t so quick to give up, arranging an advent calendar to help get her spark back. And while the gifts make Rowan feel festive – glittery bubble bath, anyone? – what she really wants to unwrap is the guy who delivers them, Alex. With his soft Scottish accent, infectious grin and blue eyes as twinkly as fairylights, Rowan wouldn’t mind finding him in her stocking this Christmas…

Rowan has no clue how to put her heartache behind her and get his attention. Is she brave enough to open the door in mid-December wearing nothing but her new sexy lingerie and shiny lip gloss? Are twenty-five days enough to get her mojo back or will she have to send a strongly-worded letter to Santa after all…?

What Might Have Been by Holly Miller

Is Lucy’s life ‘meant to be’ . . . or meant to be different?

Lucy’s life is at a crossroads. She’s just walked out of her unrewarding job and has no idea about her next step: use her savings to pursue her dream of becoming a writer, or move to London to try and revive her career? It almost seems like fate that on that same night she meets Caleb, a stranger in a bar, and runs into Max, the one-time love of her life.

Should Lucy stay in the seaside town she grew up in, and in doing so, get to know Caleb better? Or should she go to London and reconnect with Max again after he broke her heart a decade ago? It’s just one decision – but sometimes one decision can change the course of your whole life . . .

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN is a sweeping and unforgettable novel for anyone who has ever believed in destiny and soulmates – or paused to wonder what your life might look like if you’d made a different choice.

You Drive Me Crazy by Carole Matthews

The last place Anna Terry expects to fall in love is in the waiting room of her divorce lawyer’s office, but that’s where she meets Nick Diamond . . .

Anna’s first marriage ended before her pregnancy was over, and her second husband has disappeared, leaving her penniless and with two children. Nick’s luck hasn’t been any better: his wife has run off with another man and his business is in chaos.

When Anna gets a job as Nick’s secretary, what starts as a mild flirtation soon accelerates into overdrive – and then their ex-partners show up . . .

The Billionaire’s Wake-Up-Call Girl by Annika Martin

When my manager assigns me the task of finding a new wake up call service for our CEO, I think, how hard can this be?

Answer: practically impossible. It turns out that no wake-up call company in the world will take him on as a client. They’ve all had enough of his surly personality.

So in an effort not to lose my job, I secretly start making the calls myself, every day at 4:30 am sharp. OMG yes you read that right—four freaking thirty in the morning.

Confession: I’m not the nicest wake-up-call girl at that hour. Hello! Who wakes up before the roosters are even crowing? Luckily he doesn’t seem to mind my get-your-ass-out-of-bed attitude.

Day by day we’re becoming closer, and the calls start turning hot, like pay-by-the-minute hot and oh-so-wild. Snuggled under the covers with the moonlight streaming in the windows, we divulge our secrets to each other, but the one thing that he can never find out is that the sexy vixen who wakes him up every morning is just the lowly assistant who wears frumpy dresses. I can only imagine his disappointment.

Now he wants to take me out on a date and he’s scouring Manhattan to find me.

He’s an overachieving billionaire bent on a mission. How much longer can I keep up this charade?

On the First Day of Christmas by Faith Hogan

This Christmas, everything will change…

When Liv Latimer says goodbye to her fellow nurses and finishes work for the holidays, she’s looking forward to a Christmas to remember with her boyfriend Eddie.

But as she leaves the hospital, tragedy strikes and Liv is faced with a choice. Will she ignore her instincts and go home as planned? Or will she stay, and potentially change the course of her life as she knows it?

Whatever choice she makes, Liv is about to discover that fate finds a way…

The Gingerbread Cafe by Anita Faulkner

Can Gretel find the recipe for the perfect Christmas?

The Gingerbread Café is always full of Christmas magic. Come rain or shine (or even a July heatwave), there’s always a hot chocolate bursting with cinnamon and marshmallows waiting for you. For introverted Gretel, it’s been the perfect escape from ‘real life’. The owner, Nell, is Gretel’s last link to her late mum, and hiding out at the café feels so much safer than making new friends.

So when Nell suddenly passes, Gretel is left heartbroken. Then she discovers that Nell has left the café to her – but there’s a catch. Gretel has to share the running of The Gingerbread Café with the least festive person ever: Nell’s nephew, Lukas. Head chef at the local fancy restaurant, Lukas makes it clear he has no time for the café, Gretel or even Christmas itself, and Gretel’s too busy struggling to save her burnt batches of gingerbread to work out why.

Gretel is determined to keep Christmas alive and make the café a success before Lukas hands the keys over to the scrooge-like developers. But she can’t do it alone; besides an over friendly ferret and a waitress with a secret, the only person she has now is Lukas. Will it take a Christmas miracle to get the pair to finally see eye to eye, or could the ice already be melting?

A Merry Little Meet Cute by Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone

When Bee Hobbes takes the lead in a squeaky-clean romantic Christmas movie, there are only three rules:

1. Don’t get involved with anyone on set.
2. Don’t tell anyone what you do for a living.
3. Definitely don’t get involved with anyone on set.
3b. Seriously.

Now, she’s filming in Christmas Notch, a small town with Christmas trees and festive tunes all year round.

But Bee’s got a secret identity to hide, and it’s not family-friendly. And her co-star, Nolan Shaw, an ex-boyband member infamous for his own x-rated antics, not only knows it, but is secretly her biggest fan.

When things start to heat up on set, Bee and Nolan must keep this steamy affair under wraps, or risk ruining everything . . .

Nothing But the Truth by Simon Michael

The past has finally caught up with Charles…

London, 1967

The psychopathic Kray twins rule London’s underworld, aided by their government connections, corrupt police and extreme violence.

Finally, Detective Superintendent “Nipper” Read’s taskforce has a chance to take them down.

The catch: Read needs barrister Charles Holborne to testify against them, while the Krays have evidence against him which would end his career and send him to prison.

Caught in the middle, and with his pregnant partner’s life and his career at stake, this time Charles has no choices left.

Can Charles put his past behind him once and for all? Will the Krays twins’ criminal hold over London finally be put to an end?

Or will everything come crashing down for Charles Holborne…?

The Pink Coffee Shop by Ellie Barker

It’s only a list. So why does her whole world fall apart when it suddenly disappears?

Rosie Nash’s job as a daytime television show runner keeps her busy. Every second counts in the land of live TV and that’s just looking after her colleagues… and their endless demands. Rosie doesn’t mind, she loves life on the go and being away from the spotlight suits her fine. Besides, can you imagine if anyone discovered who she really was? Exactly, neither can she.

It’s all okay because she has her very own haven, The Pink Coffee Shop, which she visits after every show. It’s run by her lifelong friends, Wanda and Millie. And it gives her just the sanctuary she needs. Plus, she has her list which she carries with her wherever she goes because… well, that’s for Rosie to know.

But life begins to unravel when Rosie loses her list and she finds herself forced into the limelight. Then, when she finds a strange man sitting in her seat at The Pink Coffee Shop, her well-ordered life is never the same again.

The Pink Coffee Shop is about love, friendship and finding a way to move on when you just want to stay in the past.

It’s for anyone who has ever watched a loved one suffer and know, deep down, there is nothing you can do.

Murders at the Montgomery Hall Hotel by Gina Kirkham (pre-ordered, published 14 November)

A sleuthing librarian and her friends spend Halloween at a generations-old estate where they discover murder runs in the family . . .
 
Prunella Pearce, Bree, and the other ladies of the Winterbottom Women’s Institute are planning to spend Halloween at the Montgomery Hall Hotel murder-mystery weekend—just as the historical venue’s past comes back to haunt it.
 
The hotel is now in the incapable hands of Tarragon Montgomery, with its faltering finances overseen by elderly matriarch Cecily.
 
Meanwhile, the local actress hired to play Psychic Selma for the weekend has been replaced by an impostor. But who is she, and what is her agenda?
 
Pru and Bree have some experience solving mysteries, but as Montgomery Hall is engulfed by a storm and the bodies start piling up, they may need a little assistance from Pru’s delectable detective, Andy Barnes, in order to crack the case . . .

Well Behaved Wives by Amy Sue Nathan

Perfect wives, imperfect lives, and upending the rules of behavior in 1960s America.

Law school graduate and newlywed Ruth Appelbaum is acclimating to life and marriage in a posh Philadelphia neighborhood. She’ll do almost anything to endear herself to her mother-in-law, who’s already signed up Ruth for etiquette lessons conducted by the impeccably accessorized tutor Lillian Diamond. But Ruth brings something fresh to the small circle of housewives—sharp wit, honesty, and an independent streak that won’t be compromised.

Right away Ruth develops a friendship with the shy Carrie Blum. When Carrie divulges a dark and disturbing secret lurking beneath her seemingly perfect life, Ruth invites Lillian and the Diamond Girls of the etiquette school to finally question the status quo.

Together they form an unbreakable bond and stretch well beyond their comfort zones. For once, they’ll challenge what others expect from them, discover what they expect from themselves, and do whatever it takes to protect one of their own—fine manners be damned.

The Edge by Lucy Goacher

Sometimes it’s easier to believe the lie. But is the truth right in front of you?

Everyone says Poppy jumped. My beautiful, creative sister, with her paint-splattered dresses and sunshine smile, took her own life. And I think they’re right. Until the day I get a call from a man with a very similar story.

Everyone says his sister jumped too. But he has proof that she was pushed. And if she was, I have to ask myself: could the same thing have happened to Poppy? In the moments before she died, was she really calling me to say goodbye, or was she calling for my help? Was she really alone on that cliff edge?

When Poppy’s friends tell me she had a serious boyfriend, I feel like I’m losing my grip on reality. If they were so madly in love, wouldn’t she have told me? Wouldn’t there be pictures of them together? And when I find the silver heart necklace he gave her, I feel sick. It’s the same silver heart another murdered girl was given in the weeks before she died.

This can’t be a coincidence. Either I’ve lost my mind, or the man my darling sister loved killed her. And if he could charm his way into her life so easily, what’s to say he’s not already in mine?

The Italian Holiday by Victoria Springfield

Sun, sea and spaghetti…

Italy was Bluebell’s dream destination, but taking her granny’s place on the Loving and Knitting magazine competition holiday she’d won wasn’t quite what she’d had in mind. For one thing she didn’t knit and for the other…well being single probably discounted her from the love category too. But a free holiday is a free holiday and it’s the perfect escape from her lacklustre life.

Michela didn’t think she’d be returning home to Italy so soon, a new job at her cousin’s restaurant on the harbour of Positano was a dream gig, miles away from the grey London clouds. This time though, she vowed not to fall into old habits, Stefano was the past and now her future in her old hometown beckoned.

But under the Italian skies a whole host of possibilities await and maybe happy-ever-after is just a plane-ride away…

A Season in the Snow by Isla Gordon

Escape to the mountains and fall in love this Christmas…

Alice Bright has a great life. She has a job she adores, a devoted family and friends she’d lay down her life for. But when tragedy strikes, she finds her whole world turned upside down.

Enter, Bear, a fluffy, lovable – and rapidly growing! – puppy searching for a home. Bear may be exactly what Alice needs to rekindle her spark, but a London flat is no place for a mountain dog, and soon Alice and Bear find themselves on a journey to the snow-topped mountains of Switzerland in search of a new beginning.

Amidst the warming log fires, cosy cafes and stunning views, Alice finds her heart slowly beginning to heal. But will new friends and a charming next door neighbour be enough to help Alice fall in love with life once more?

Home by Penny Parkes

A gripping and heartfelt story about overcoming the past and finding where you belong.
 
Anna Wilson travels the world as a professional housesitter – stepping into other people’s lives – caring for their homes, pets and sometimes even neighbours. Living vicariously.
 
But all Anna has ever really wanted is a home of her own – a proper one, filled with family and love and happy memories. If only she knew where to start.
 
Growing up in foster care, she always envied her friends their secure and carefree lives, their certainty and confidence. And, while those same friends may have become her family of choice, Anna is still stuck in that nomadic cycle, looking for answers, trying to find the courage to put down roots and find a place to call home.

Love, Locked Down by Beth Reekles

Five couples. One week. A love story like no other . . .

When an apartment block is put on lockdown, its residents are in for a whirlwind week. In Flat 14, wild and reckless Imogen is stuck living with a one-night-stand whose name she can’t remember.

Upstairs, Isla and Danny are still in the honeymoon period, but a warts-and-all week together so early in the relationship could make or break their romance. Meanwhile, Zach and Serena’s steady relationship is on tenterhooks, and pineapple on pizza might actually be the last straw.

In Flat 22, Olivia’s Maid of Honour duties are pushing her to the edge as a wedding-planning weekend has turned into an entire (nightmarish) week… And speaking of weddings, this whole thing has made Ethan realise he wants to spend the rest of his life with Charlotte, if only he can surprise her with the perfect proposal – and find a way to sneak her into the building . . .

The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid

When a skeleton is discovered hidden at the top of a crumbling, gothic building in Edinburgh, Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie is faced with the unenviable task of identifying the bones. As Karen’s investigation gathers momentum, she is drawn deeper into a dark world of intrigue and betrayal.

Meanwhile, someone is taking the law into their own hands in the name of justice and revenge — but when present resentment collides with secrets of the past, the truth is more shocking than anyone could have imagined . . .

Out of Bounds by Val McDermid

‘There are lots of things that ran in families, but murder wasn’t one of them . . .’

When a teenage joyrider crashes a stolen car and ends up in a coma, a routine DNA test could be the key to unlocking the mystery of a twenty-year-old murder inquiry. Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie is an expert at solving the unsolvable. With each cold case closed, justice is served. So, finding the answer should be straightforward, but it’s as twisted as the DNA helix itself.

Meanwhile Karen finds herself irresistibly drawn to another case, one that she has no business investigating. And as she pieces together decades-old evidence, Karen discovers the most dangerous kinds of secrets. Secrets that someone is willing to kill for . .

Broken Ground by Val McDermid

‘Somebody has been here before us. And he’s still here . . .’

When a body is discovered in the remote depths of the Highlands, DCI Karen Pirie finds herself in the right place at the right time. Unearthed with someone’s long-buried inheritance, the victim seems to belong to the distant past – until new evidence suggests otherwise, and Karen is called in to unravel a case where nothing is as it seems.

It’s not long before an overheard conversation draws Karen into the heart of a different case, however – a shocking crime she thought she’d already prevented. As she inches closer to the twisted truths at the centre of these murders, it becomes clear that she’s dealing with a version of justice terrifyingly different to her own . . .

Rabbit Hole by Mark Billingham

My name is Alice. I’m a police officer.
I’m trying to solve a murder on a psychiatric ward.
But I’m also a patient…


They were meant to be safe on Fleet Ward: psychiatric patients monitored, treated, cared for. But now one of their number is found murdered, and the accusations begin to fly.

Was it one of his fellow patients? A member of staff? Or did someone come in from the outside?

DC Alice Armitage is methodical, tireless, and she’s quickly on the trail of the killer.

The only problem is, Alice is a patient too.

Happiness is a Thing With Wings by Susi Osborne

Joanna is approaching the end of her forties and the empty nest syndrome looms. She consoles herself with gin and chocolate, realising that apart from raising her son Jack, she has achieved absolutely nothing.

Somewhat on the plus side of plump and barely five feet tall, she finds it difficult not to envy her younger, prettier sister. Such elevated elegance seems so unfair – as does Hannah’s successful marriage. Joanna, in contrast, has remained in a loveless marriage for the past thirty years, stuck in a rut with the most miserable man on the planet but not having the impetus to get out.

It takes an embarrassing but hilarious encounter in the supermarket to make her realise what she’s been missing. It’s exactly the push she needs to make her change her life. With a little encouragement, Joanna starts to regain her independence, finally leaving her grumpy husband to enjoy life as a single woman. As she attempts to rebuild her own future, her family and friends continually surprise her with their own revelations.

Life is never dull, laughter never far away; can Joanna finally find true happiness within herself at last?

Subscription Books

The Selfless Act of Breathing by JJ Bola

Michael Kabongo is a British-Congolese teacher living in London on the cusp of two identities. On paper, he seems to have it all – he’s loved by his students, popular with his colleagues, and enjoys the pride of his mother who emigrated from the Congo. But behind closed doors, he’s been struggling with the overwhelming sense that he can’t improve the injustices he sees – from his efforts to change the lives of his students, to his attempts to transcend the violence that marginalises young Black men around the world.

Then Michael suffers a devastating loss, and his life is thrown into a tailspin. As he struggles to find a way forward, memories of his fathers’ violent death, the weight of being a refugee, and an increasing sense of dread threaten everything he’s worked so hard to achieve.

Longing to escape the shadows in his mind and start anew, Michael decides to spontaneously pack up and go to America, the mythical ‘land of the free,’ where he imagines everything will be better, easier – a place where he can become someone new, someone without a past filled with pain. On this transformative journey, Michael travels from New York City to San Francisco, partying with new friends, sparking fleeting romances, and splurging on big adventures.

In the back of his mind, Michael has a plan: follow his dreams until the money in his bank account runs out, and then he will decide if his life is truly worth living…

Books I Read and Recommend

A Summer of Second Chances by Suzanne Snow

Sparks and tempers fly when Ben comes to stay in Daisy’s holiday cottage

Daisy likes routine. She goes to work, makes dinner for her son, then loses herself for an hour or two in her sewing. She’s not looking for change, until Ben crashes – literally – into her life.

Ben is training for a triathlon, working himself to the limit in an attempt to forget a recent trauma. Daisy wants to help, but even as they draw closer with every week that passes, he pushes her away whenever things threaten to get serious.

Can Ben open himself up to love again? And with Daisy’s life in the Yorkshire Dales and Ben’s in New York, can they have a future together even if he does?

Light Through the Vines by Fiona Valpy

Gina’s London life lies in tatters: she has lost her father, her steady job as a wine buyer and her suave but unfaithful boyfriend. When she also suffers the loss of her beloved aunt, a silver lining dawns in the shape of an unexpected legacy: Aunt Liz has left Gina her beautiful, if slightly ramshackle, house in the heart of Bordeaux wine country. With nothing left to lose, Gina takes a chance on a fresh start.

Throwing herself into her new life in the beautiful French countryside, Gina discovers the warmth of a close-knit—sometimes too close-knit—rural community and the exhausting exhilaration of the grape harvest under the late-summer sun. But just as she is beginning to feel like she belongs in her crumbling but charming home, she uncovers a long-hidden secret that makes her question the one person she used to trust the most. While she’s worrying that this is a sign to pack her bags and run, a storm blows a hole in the roof, and Gina finds herself with nowhere else to turn except her neighbour’s capable son for help.

Before long Gina finds herself admiring handsome Cédric for more than just his stonemasonry skills…But everyone she’s ever held dear has left her or betrayed her. And as the grapes ripen on the vine, can Gina find her way to forgiveness, and could it finally be time for her to open her heart to love again?

Resisting Mr Rochester by Sharon Booth

Cara Truelove has always been a romantic, burying her head in books and dreaming of being swept off her feet by her very own Brontë hero.
When she was a gullible teenager, she believed boyfriend Seth to be a modern-day brooding Heathcliff. Fourteen years later, when Seth has proved to be more like Homer Simpson, Cara vows never to fall in love again, and turns her back on romance for good.
Leaving Seth behind, Cara secures a job as nanny at Morland Hall on the Yorkshire Moors, but is shocked to discover her new employer is none other than the tall, dark, and disturbingly handsome Mr Rochester.
Her resolve to be more level-headed is soon tested when strange things begin to happen at Morland Hall. Why is Mr Rochester’s mother hidden away upstairs? What are the strange noises she hears from the attic? Why is the housekeeper so reluctant to leave her on her own? And where is Mr Rochester’s mysterious wife?
As events unfold, Cara knows she must keep a cool head, curb her imagination – and resist Mr Rochester at all costs. After all, one Brontë hero in a lifetime is more than enough for any woman.
Two would be downright greedy.
Wouldn’t it?

Someone Like You by Rachel Dove

One broken marriage. One broken heart. One chance to meet someone new.

Hannah leaves her unhappy marriage with her daughter Ava and moves to the village of Leadsham to start afresh. She plans to keep a low profile, focusing on Ava and making a new life for them, far away from her violent ex-husband.

What she hadn’t counted on was Andrew Brody. A police officer with a strict moral code, he knows something’s wrong as soon as he meets Hannah, and he wants to help. But Hannah has been let down by the police – and men – before, and pushes him away.

But the more Hannah tries to ignore Brody, the more she’s drawn to him. Caring, kind and patient, he’s nothing like the man she’s running from. Can Hannah finally put her past behind her, and open her heart to someone new?

Strictly Come Dating by Kathryn Freeman

Fun, feel-good and a must read for fans of Strictly Come Dancing!

Saturday nights are strictly for dancing… 

As the glitter ball shimmers and sequins flash, forty-year-old Maggie remembers the pull of the dancefloor.  But now, as a newly divorced mum of two, Maggie’s certain her dancing days are over.  Or are they…?

Encouraged by her friends, Maggie dusts off her silver stilettoes and enrols for dancing classes, all she needs now is the perfect partner.

Enter Seb.  Young, carefree and hot as hell, Seb is definitely a perfect 10!  Even though everything about him is outrageously inappropriate! But as Seb sweeps her across the dancefloor every week, Maggie begins to see a new side to him; kind, caring, funny, strong. 

And Maggie realises that he’s the only one she’d like to foxtrot with…perhaps even forever?

Owner of a Lonely Heart by Eva Carter

What are you most afraid of . . . ?

Gemma is terrified of slowing down, because if she does, she’ll have to admit how lonely she’s felt since losing the love of her life. So she fills her days with work and taking her dog, Bear, to comfort young patients at the local hospital. That’s enough, isn’t it?

Dan is scared of anyone getting to know the real him. He’s the life and soul of every party, but he’s certain that if people find out what he’s done, everything will fall apart.

Casey is Dan’s twelve year old daughter – though they barely know each other. She’s starting four weeks of treatment for a benign tumour, and is scared this summer could be her last.

When Gemma, Dan and Casey meet one scorching July, the connection is instant. Yet they’re all used to protecting themselves from heartbreak by keeping their distance. Now that fate – and a small, scruffy terrier – have brought them together, can they find the courage to connect?

Starry, Starry Night by Marcia Willett

‘We’ll always be together, won’t we?’

Childhood friends and cousins Leo and Alice had imagined their whole lives playing out on their beloved Devon beach. But one night when they are teens, sitting on the sand beneath the stars, Alice tells Leo a secret that must never be shared with anybody else . . . then packs her bag and flees.

Leo is left to build his own life – without Alice. He surrounds himself with other family and friends and on the whole is content and fulfilled. But he is left with a sense of what – or who – is missing. So decades later, when he receives a note from Alice asking if she can come home, he doesn’t hesitate to agree.

But as the stars align and their reunion draws near, Leo is left to consider their separation and what so many years apart means for a relationship solidified in youth and a secret which could affect the whole family.

Maureen Fry and the Angel of the North by Rachel Joyce

Ten years ago, Harold Fry set off on his epic journey on foot to save a friend. But the story doesn’t end there.
Now his wife, Maureen, has her own pilgrimage to make.

Maureen Fry has settled into the quiet life she now shares with her husband Harold after his iconic walk across England. Now, ten years later, an unexpected message from the North disturbs her equilibrium again, and this time it is Maureen’s turn to make her own journey.

But Maureen is not like Harold. She struggles to bond with strangers, and the landscape she crosses has changed radically. She has little sense of what she’ll find at the end of the road. All she knows is that she must get there.

Tell That to my Heart by Eliza J Scott

Jemima Dewberry wears her heart on her sleeve. Her weakness for bad boys, coupled with her track record for making bad decisions has led to endless heartbreak. The only trouble is, she can’t seem to kick the habit.

On top of that, her “dream” job at Yorkshire Portions magazine hasn’t turned out to be what she’d hoped, and she seems to have developed the knack of annoying her boss without even trying. It doesn’t help that the new girl seems to have taken an instant dislike to her. All that’s keeping her there are her best friends Anna-Lisa and Aidey, who have picked up the pieces of her shattered heart more times than they care to remember.

When Jemima’s latest boyfriend turns out to be no better than the rest, the hurt and humiliation is almost unbearable. She declares she’s finally through with love, and swears off men for life. But when charismatic Caspar De Verre walks into the office with his dangerous good looks and mesmerising smile, she’s utterly captivated, and her promises to Anna-Lisa and Aidey not to let her heart rule her head are soon forgotten.

But is Caspar all he seems? Anna-Lisa and Aidey have their doubts. And Herbert, the happy-go-lucky black Labrador Jemima’s looking after, doesn’t seem to like him either.

As Jemima falls for Caspar’s charms she finds herself being forced to confront the struggle between her head and her heart. But which one will prove the most powerful?

And will Jemima get the happy-ever-after she so desperately craves?

Then I Met You by Matt Dunn

Dream date . . . or an absolute nightmare?

Lisa’s dated a series of disastrous men; Simon’s loved and lost the girl of his dreams. She’s hoping fate might intervene in her love life; he’d prefer that it stopped meddling with his.

Today, they’re meeting, courtesy of the local paper’s “Blind Date” feature—but while Lisa’s looking for that elusive “spark”, Simon’s sure lightning doesn’t strike twice. Will theirs be a love that’s written in the stars, or merely another mismatch written up in the Gazette?

The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain

‘Albert Entwistle was a postman.It was one of the few things everyone knew about him. And it was one of the few things he was comfortable with people knowing . . .’

Living alone since the death of his mam, 64-year-old Albert Entwistle keeps himself to himself. So one frosty December morning, just back from delivering mail full of the Christmas cheer that no one now extends to him, Albert is surprised to find himself in receipt of a letter.

The contents shock him. With no friends, and nothing to look forward to, his future suddenly seems lonely and frightening.

It’s not the first time that Albert has received a letter that will change his life. But, as the snow starts to fall, this time around he’s spurred into action. The time has come for him to face the secret he’s been keeping for fifty years . . .

With a new year fast approaching, Albert needs to be brave and go after what he wants, however much it scares him. And he will begin by looking for the man that, many years ago, he lost – but has never forgotten . . .

Join Albert Entwistle as he sets out to find the long-lost love of his life, and has an unforgettable and completely life-affirming adventure on the way.

The Mixtape by Brittainy Cherry

Since the death of his twin brother, Oliver’s caught between pleasing his fans and finding himself. Emery finds him first.

Emery has never felt more alone. Raising her daughter is both her pleasure and her pain as she struggles to hold on to her job as a bartender and keep a roof over their heads. With no one to help them—no support system—any unexpected expense or late bill could turn their whole world upside down.

Reeling from the death of his twin brother and bandmate, rock star Oliver Smith is trying to drink his problems away. Apparently he isn’t very good at it; they follow him wherever he goes. Also in hot pursuit are the paparazzi, who catch Oliver at his lowest low.

He could have walked into any bar in California, but he walked into hers. Emery helps Oliver lose the crowd, and they find themselves alone: two people whose paths are marked with loss and pain. However, they hold an unshakable hope for healing. They find solace together, but can their love withstand the world?

So how did I do with my reading intentions?

A-Z Reading Challenge, This Month R & S

TitleFormatDate purchased
Summer of Second ChancesKindleAug 2022
Resisting Mr RochesterKind;eAug 2018
Someone Like YouKindleOct 2022
Strictly Come DatingKindleOct 2022
Starry Starry NightKindleAug 2021
Secret Life of Albert EntwistleKindleAug 2021

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

Unread ebooksUnread Tree Books
Start of Month 3939 753
Items Added 37!!!! 02
Items Removed 03
Items Read 08 00
End of Month 3973 755

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

 

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