Five on Friday with Linda Huber @LindaHuber19

 

Today I’m delighted to let Linda Huber share with us, her Five on Friday.  I first became aware of Linda when I read and enjoyed her book The Cold Cold Sea (see my review here). I always feel very lucky when I get the chance to actually ‘meet’ authors, albeit virtually,  and Linda is someone who is always happy to interact via Twitter and social media, which I very much appreciate.

LindaHuber

Author Bio

Linda Huber grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, but went to work in Switzerland for a year aged twenty-two, and has lived there ever since. Her day jobs have included working as a physiotherapist in schools for handicapped children, and teaching English in a medieval castle. She now lives by a Swiss lake and writes psychological suspense novels under her own name, and feel-good novellas as Melinda Huber.

Over to Linda …

Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?

 

Ride a White Swan, T. Rex. This was a hit right at the start of my teenage disco days. I would cuddle in the corner of the sofa to watch Top of the Pops, a cushion clutched to my heart, and oh, the joy if Marc Bolan and T. Rex were on…

Careless Whisper, George Michael – I just love that saxophone! It’s a lovely song, too, and best of all it lasts exactly five minutes. A few years ago I did the Couch to 5K programme, and I used Careless Whisper for timing when I eventually arrived at the stage where I could run for 5 minutes.

Who Wants To Live Forever? Queen. Freddy Mercury was one of the first celebrities to die of AIDS. I remember it well – news broke first that he had AIDS, which was a huge shock in those days, then just a day or two afterwards he was gone. Later, I used a lot of Queen songs in my English classes – very clever lyrics, some of them.

Dances with Wolves, theme music. This is one of my all-time favourite films, and the music is everything you want in a film – stirring, uplifting, sad, hopeful, happy… just like life, I guess.

This Blue World, Elbow. A year or two ago when I was in Scotland for my father’s 90th, my brother had an Elbow CD playing in his car. Dad had terminal cancer at the time and this melancholy track mirrored my feelings exactly.

 

Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.

 

My shopping trolley. I’ve had it for over a year now, and it’s transported everything from groceries to standing lamps to rose bushes to microwaves…

My mum’s engagement ring. It was my paternal grandmother’s first, but she died well before my parents married. Family history on my finger.

My books. I don’t care now if I read them on kindle or in a ‘real’ book. It’s the story that’s important, and the escape into another world while you’re reading.

The woods, just metres from my flat. They provide us with an ever-changing and permanently beautiful view.

Photos. Pictures of moments gone by with those no longer here – my husband, parents, some friends, the dog. Memories are one thing, but a photo is something to have in your hand, whether it’s on a screen or a piece of paper.

 

Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?

 

Don’t worry so much – you’ll be fine.

Stop trying to fit into size 10 clothes.

Learn to touch-type NOW. (I was in my 40s before I did)

Get out of the city more. Nature is healing.

Talk to your older relatives, listen to their stories.


Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.

 

I collect china sheep.

I cut my own hair – haven’t been to the hairdresser for over twenty years.

No-one has ever called me ‘Mum’ – I’m not sure why, it wasn’t a deliberate decision on our part, but the kids called us by our Christian names right from the start.

I kill plants. I love having them in my flat, but oh, dear, my fingers are as green as ripe tomatoes.

My weekly shopping list, which I scribble over several days, is always a mixture of English and German, depending on what I’m thinking and who I’m with at the time.

 

What are the first 5 things you’d have on your bucket list?

 

Spend a summer travelling on the west coast of Scotland.

Go to an antiques auction and find something amazing and beautiful for my flat at a price I can afford, and bid for it. Successfully, of course.

Visit Rome. Ridiculous I’ve never been there; it isn’t even far away from here.

Get together with my five oldest friends from school. We’re still in touch and have managed various four and occasionally five-way combinations, but the six of us all together in one room hasn’t happened since the late seventies. Geography and busy lives have a lot to answer for.

A Mediterranean cruise. So many interesting places to stop off at. We could maybe swing by a dig at some point, and see the archaeologists at work – it must be amazing, uncovering pieces of history. Imagine finding a vase or a bracelet someone used thousands of years ago…

 

Thanks for taking part and sharing Linda. Marc Bolan was also one of my crushes and guaranteed to make my mother cringe which was even better! I’m with you on books (in any format) and photos. I’m also quite taken with the idea of a shopping trolley. I can recommend going to an auction, it’s great fun – especially when you get what you want. Hope you manage to get together with your friends – that would amazing after all this time.

o-O-o

 

Linda’s Books

The Paradise TreesThe Paradise Trees – recently re-published

He had found exactly the right spot in the woods. A little clearing, green and dim, encircled by tall trees. He would bring his lovely Helen here… This time, it was going to be perfect.

When Alicia Bryson returns to her childhood home in a tiny Yorkshire village, she finds her estranged father frail and unable to care for himself. Her daughter Jenny is delighted at the prospect of a whole summer playing in the woods at the bottom of the garden, but as soon as Alicia sets foot in Lower Banford, strange and disturbing memories begin to plague her. What happened in her father’s house, all those years ago?

But coping with the uncertainty and arranging Bob’s care plan aren’t Alicia’s only problems. Unknown to her, she has a stalker. Someone is watching, waiting, making plans of his own. To him, Alicia and Jenny are his beautiful Helens… and they should be in Paradise.

 

Death WishDeath Wish

Secrets. Lies. Murder?

Eight-year-old Joya has a difficult life. Her parents are always fighting, and Grandma Vee is sick. And someone nearby has a death wish – but Joya doesn’t know that yet.

Next door, Leo is realising that going into business with Eleanor was the worst mistake ever. Eleanor is the mother-in-law from hell, and will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Her daughter Ashley has good reason to hate her mother, too. The atmosphere is toxic, and old wounds refuse to heal.

Soon these two families will collide, and the consequences might just be fatal…

 

Baby DearBaby Dear

Caro and Jeff Horne seem to have it all until they learn that Jeff is infertile. Caro married Jeff because her biggest wish was to be a mother, and he had the means to give their children a better life than she’d had. Jeff, who is besotted with Caro, is terrified he will lose her now they can’t have a baby.

Across town, Sharon is eight months pregnant and unsure if she really wants to be a mother. Soon her world will collide with Jeff’s. He wants to keep Caro happy and decides that getting a baby is the only way.

Then Caro is accidently drawn into an underworld of drugs…

Meanwhile, Jeff is increasingly desperate to find a baby – but what lengths is he prepared to go to?

Is Sharon in danger, and will Caro ever have the family she’s always dreamed of?

 

Dead WardWard Zero

Horror swept through her. Had she been buried alive?
On Sarah’s first visit to see her foster mother, Mim, in Brockburn General Hospital, she is sucked into a world that isn’t what it should be.
Someone is lying, someone is stealing. And someone is killing – but who? With a grieving child to take care of, as well as Mim, Sarah has to put family first. She doesn’t see where danger lies – until it’s too late.

If you think you’re safe in a hospital, think again.

 

Chosen ChildChosen Child

A disappearance. A sudden death. A betrayal of the worst kind.

Ella longs for a child of her own, but a gruesome find during an adoption process deepens the cracks in her marriage. Her husband Rick has a secret, but Ella doesn’t want to know…

Across town, Amanda is expecting her second child when her husband vanishes. The search begins, but nothing prepares Amanda for the shocking conclusion to the police investigation.

And in the middle of it all, a little girl is looking for a home of her own with a ‘forever’ mummy and daddy…

How well do you know your own family? And who can you trust?

 

Attic RoomThe Attic Room

A father’s secret… a mother’s lie… a family mystery.
An unexpected phone call – and Nina’s life takes a disturbing twist. Who is John Moore? And how does he know her name?
Nina travels south to see the house she inherited, but sinister letters arrive and she finds herself in the middle of a police investigation. With her identity called into question, Nina uncovers a shocking crime. But what, exactly, happened in the attic room, all those years ago? The answer could lie close to home.
The arrival of her ten-year-old daughter compounds Nina’s problems, but her tormentor strikes before she can react. Searching for the truth about the Moore family puts both Nina and her child into grave danger.

 

cold-cold-seaThe Cold Cold Sea – to be re-published in August 

They stared at each other, and Maggie felt the tightness in her middle expand as it shifted, burning its way up… Painful sobs rose from her throat as Colin, his face expressionless now, reached for his mobile and dialled 999.

When three-year-old Olivia disappears, her parents are overwhelmed with grief. Weeks go by and Olivia’s mother refuses to leave the cottage, staring out at the turbulent sea and praying it didn’t claim her precious daughter’s life.

Not far away, another mother watches proudly as her daughter starts school. Jennifer has loved Hailey for five years, but the child is suddenly moody and difficult, and there’s a niggling worry of doubt that Jennifer cannot shake off. As she struggles to maintain control there are gaps in her story that even she can’t explain.

Time is running out for Maggie at the cottage, and also for Jennifer and Hailey. No-one can underestimate a mother’s love for her child, and no-one can predict the lengths one will go to, to protect her family.

Oh dear, putting this list together has highlighted how many of these I’ve bought and need to bump up my tbr mountain. 

 

You can keep up to date with Linda via her

Amazon Author Pages: viewAuthor.at/LindaHuber  and  author.to/MelindaHuber

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorlindahuber

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindaHuber19

Website: http://lindahuber.net/

 

 

 

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Privilege vs Entitlement

Oh dear, another weekend and another Facebook/Twitter storm to get our average, normal book blogger foaming at the mouth – me included this time.

Normally when things ‘kick off’ I read through, get silently annoyed and pass on by. Largely due to using a tablet, which is a pain in the proverbial to type on, largely due to its diabolical auto-correct which means I start something and give up in despair.

But over the past couple of weeks, several subjects have raised their heads, ARC’s being sold on Ebay (presumably by a blogger); the notion that book bloggers should be paid (from some-one disgruntled that we devalue their work for doing it for free); and today, the ‘blogger’ who signs up for Blog Tours then disregards all the rules (not to mention basic reviewing/blogging standards) presumably in return for free books.

I have problems with all of these. Selling ARC’s on Ebay is not only illegal, but is also a blatant abuse of the relationship between author/publisher and blogger that is created when we accept and agree to read and review. The fact that these are being sold unread, is an even bigger abuse as there isn’t even an upside of an attempted review. Though in the case of my last example that might be a bonus.

The notion that a blogger should be paid, is more contentious. Yes we spend time and effort reading, writing, preparing and scheduling posts but the majority of us do so by choice. We do it as a hobby, we do it to share our love of books, we do it because we can. Traditionally, book blogs have never been commercial blogs, unlike those for fashion or cosmetics for example. Book blogs have been the domain of the book lover who wants to share their passion with the world, however big or small that world may be. That is also the joy of book blogging. Most of us, I believe, didn’t start out blogs with the intention of reaching world domination. I started mine to bring all my reviews together. I originally posted on Netgalley, Goodreads and Amazon and wanted one place that was mine to ‘record’ them. It was a big step, as it meant entering into a world of, what I considered ‘real’ bloggers. To an extent, I still feel that way after two years, I often feel like I’m playing at blogging, because I do my own thing and post as and when I want, I don’t do tours and don’t get involved in other bloggy things. But that’s OK, that’s my choice and that’s the point of having your own blog – it’s your blog, your rules. The book blogging community that I’m happy and delighted to be a part of, is accepting of all. There’s no snobbery, no looking down on newcomers, no hierarchy – except, in our own heads. I know I have bloggers that I look up to as being role models, as being  top-notch and feel honoured that they treat me the same as every-one else, that’s what makes the blogging community great.

So money, yes I can see that book reviews and blogs etc promote particular titles and authors and in any other field you might be expected to be paid. But who is doing the paying and how much exactly would you charge. Would you be paid on results? and who decides? What hasn’t been mentioned yet is of course, the real issue that raises its head once money is mentioned, integrity. Right now, we read a book and write a review, that should reflect our honest opinions. I’m not being side-tracked down the blind alley of how many of us don’t give bad reviews. We are all, for the most part by now, experienced to know what we like, what we don’t and are pretty adept at choosing a ‘good’ book. Consequently, by default we like what we read and mark it accordingly. When I chose most of my reading from the library, I rarely picked a book I didn’t like and the word bias would never have applied because I wasn’t writing about it.  Once it’s monetarised and someone is paying for our opinion, then the readers of our reviews, would quite rightly start to ask questions as to who we are ‘working’ for. I write my reviews for other readers, as an ex-librarian, it’s my way of sharing the books via the internet instead of over the desk. Of course, I’m happy to help author’s whose books I like, and help to introduce readers to new authors, but I’m not being paid to do so. When someone extols the virtues of a new £50 face cream they were given by the manufacturer, and paid to feature, then I would rightly question those views, so why wouldn’t some one do the same with our reviews. The best (worst) justification I heard was that people have rent to pay and food to put on the table. My response quite frankly is get a job then. Do not try to make a career out of a role that has never traditionally been paid for.  Just leave blogging to those who want to do it – and for free

Now finally, today’s issue involves a blogger joining Blog Tours and yet refusing to comply with standard blog tour rules. The current post includes all her June Blog Tour posts as one post, thereby debasing and devaluing the premise of the tour and all the work put in by others. Further more her posts are mostly rants as to why she hasn’t got what she wanted on time and whether or not she did (or didn’t) get a proof copy. Her reviews consist of rudimentary comments which seem to be based on the blurb and for the most part don’t suggest she has actually read the book. Though she also feels she should also be mentioned on the covers. I think she may be getting mentioned soon enough, but not on the covers and for all the wrong reasons. While bloggers are quite rightly getting up in arms about how she is devaluing what they do, my concern is also with the publishers and publicists who are supplying her. Where is the quality control? Where is the checking that features are being posted as agreed? It also makes me wonder  whether this might also be how individuals are getting ARC’s to sell on E-bay. As an author, I’d be concerned about how my work was being presented and promoted.  As a blogger I’d be asking how this individual is getting ARC’s and  a place on prestigious tours that other respected bloggers are being turned down for. My gripe as a side issue is that I rarely get ARC’s as I don’t do tours. I get approached but once I mention I don’t do tours, I don’t get offered even an e-copy to review!

So, back to the title of this piece as I believe it perfectly demonstrates the problem we have here, as well no doubt in wider society – that of privilege vs entitlement.

Privilege has been defined as a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group. I feel that the relationship we have with authors and publishers is a privileged one. It’s one to be respected and earned and enjoyed. We are privileged to be able to do what we do and most of us respect the perks that come with it. I get excited if an author retweets one of my reviews – forget being mentioned on a cover.

Entitlement has been defined as the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment. It appears that some people new to the blogging world are too ready to assume that by calling themselves a blogger they are entitled to the privileges that many of us have either earned or are working towards. Privileges are earned – they are not a right. We are not entitled to demand ARC’s, I don’t believe we have the right to expect, let alone demand payment and I acknowledge that the privileges we might enjoy are not always commensurate with the work that we may put in. But hey that’s life – no-one is entitled.

So to my fellow bloggers I say, keep on doing what you’re doing for all the right reasons, your peers acknowledge what you do and so do the authors and publishers you help. In the end, integrity and hard work will win, or at least keep you sleeping well at night.

Bookchoice selection for June @BookchoiceEN

It’s the beginning of the month and time to look at this month’s offerings from Bookchoice. Described as “the digital book service in your pocket” Bookchoice select eight e-books and audiobooks  for £3.99 a month. Yes, you read that correctly £3.99 a month (payable annually in advance). Every month the Bookchoice team selects a range of titles  – from bestsellers and award-winners to the latest literary hits and sends them direct to your email inbox.  Where books are offered in e-book and audiobook format, the offer isn’t for one or the other – it’s for both!! I subscribed in January and here are the titles for this month.

 E-book only titles

 

-the-tattooist-auschwitz-eThe Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

32407. No name, no identity, just a number.

Arriving at Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1942, Lale Sokolov had little idea of the horrors he would encounter in the concentration camp. One of the stronger prisoners, Lale is offered the job of tattooing his fellow captives with numbers, just like his own, wiping away their identity and their humanity.

But even in the darkest of circumstances, light can break through. When a group of young women are transferred to the camp, Lale is charged with redoing their numbers. And with that, he finds his reason to fight for survival – Gita.

 

the-other-half-of-happiness-eThe Other Half of Happiness by Ayisha Malik

Sofia is having a traditional Muslim wedding, according to her mother. There’s going to be henna, hair oil, and countless aunties drawn into existance by the promise of biryani.

There are, however, a couple of small problems:
1. She’s already married.
2. She’s married to her Irish next-door-neighbour, not the polite Muslim boy her mother had envisioned.
3. He’s not coming to the wedding.

A warm, funny and touching novel, for anyone that’s ever found themselves stuck between the life they want, and the life their family wanted for them.

 

someone-is-watching-eSomeone is Watching by Joy Fielding

Private investigator Bailey Carpenter appears to have it all – until one night while on a stakeout she is brutally attacked and violated. Suddenly her everyday life is engulfed in the paranoia that someone is watching. Her attacker could be anyone… including the man inhabiting the apartment across from her whom she has a habit of spying on.

As Bailey struggles to cope with her ordeal, the police make little headway in her case. Taking matters into her own hands, she begins a feverish quest to find the perpetrator and bring him to justice – even if it claims her sanity.

 

Titles in both e-book and audio-book format. 

 

maam-darling-eMa’am Darling by Craig Brown

In the ’50s and ’60s, Princess Margaret was regarded as one of the most elegant and alluring women in the world. Gore Vidal thought she was ‘real royalty’. Pablo Picasso admired her beauty. Peter Sellers was besotted with her.

But over the next twenty years, Margaret became known as a rude, narcissistic, arrogant snob, with whom a dinner party could become a ghastly ordeal. What happened?

Richly detailed and chock-full of laughs, Ma’am Darling is a blistering portrait of Britain’s most infamous royal by its best-loved satirist.

 

assegai-eAssegai by Wilbur Smith

It is 1906. Leon Courtney, a former Second Lieutenant in the King’s African Rifles, has quit his army career to become a highly successful big-game hunter and safari guide.

But when his uncle – a commander of the British forces in the country – asks Leon to gather intelligence on a powerful German industrialist, he suddenly discovers a plot that could wipe out the British forces – and endanger the woman he loves.

Evocative and expertly-crafted, Assegai vividly brings to life the world of Colonial Africa by a master in his genre.

 

annihilation-eAnnihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

On an unspoiled stretch of the US coastline lies Area X – a quarantined wilderness, where nothing is as it seems.

A mysterious government agency known as the Southern Reach has sent eleven expeditions into the zone. Most who enter never return; those who do are never the same.

Now, the twelfth expedition – made up of four women – prepares to head into the unknown.

Dreamlike and disorienting, Annihilation is a stunning work of sci-fi unlike anything else you’ve ever read.

 

the-god-of-small-things-eThe God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

Paradise Pickles & Preserves has maintained that secret world the twins built down by their river.

That place that lies between the vats of banana jam and the frog stained road. That sinks down to the toxic river fish, and rises up to the owl in the eaves of the barn.
That place that could be shattered by their cousin, lying there in her child-sized coffin in her bright yellow bell bottoms.

Roy’s tactile, mesmerising novel, is a meditation on those moments that are preserved forever, even when the world around them turns to rubble. Read her unforgettable debut now, before turning to her long-anticipated follow-up novel, out now.

 

miracle-brew-eMiracle Brew by Pete Brown

Water – Yeast – Barley – Hops

It doesn’t seem like much.

But from four ingredients, civilization was born; whole cultures, religious practices, global industries have sprung up. From what seems like nothing at all, comes the world’s most popular drink.

Miracle Brew tells the story of beer, and those that have mastered it. It’s stoic farmers in the Maris Otter Mother Field, pubs in Bavaria that smell of smoked bacon, and chirpy, if cold, PR reps in gargantuan breweries.

Pete Brown shows us that each forgotten night in your local boozer is the result of thousands of years of personality and craft.

 

Audio book only titles

 

Stella & MargieStella and Margie by Glenna Thomson

Stella is busy. She’s trying to stage the play she’s spent years writing. But she also has kids, a farmer husband, a house to keep clean. The last thing she needs is her mother-in-law making demands from the guest room.

Margie isn’t as busy as she once was. Not since her fall. But she’s perfectly capable of looking after herself. So the last thing she needs is her daughter-in-law Stella, treating her like a invalid.

But they’re stuck together. And, even though they may not want to admit it, after a while, they might actually like each other.

 

Everything I never told youEverything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

At home, Lydia Lee is a bright and confident teenager. Her parents’ favourite child, she is the envy of her brother, Nath, and sister, Hannah. At school, she is quiet and studious. Do the friends that she talks about really exist? Or is she hiding a darker secret?

When Lydia disappears one day, the police insist that she’ll return, just like her mother did once before. But when her body is found in a lake, the Lee family are in turmoil. With secrets to be uncovered and relationships to be torn apart, Lydia’s parents are determined that someone will be held responsible, no matter the cost.

 

On the Java RidgeOn the Java Ridge by Jock Serong

A young refugee and her pregnant mother struggle to stay alive on a boat of asylum seekers. Hundreds of kilometers away, the disillusioned skipper of the Java Ridge ferries thrill-seeking tourists in search of the perfect wave. A tropical storm hits, and fates collide. Meanwhile, in the face of an important Australian election, the inept Minister of Border Security announces a new hard-line policy on border security, prohibiting Australian vessels to engage with foreign vessels… even when it comes to performing rescue.

As the Java Ridge nears the Australian border, political interests clash with the devastation of the refugee crisis.

 

A pretty impressive selection for £3.99 I think. If you want to take a look at Bookchoice you can find them here.  I would like to make it clear that I have no affiliation with Bookchoice, I’m choosing to share this with you, purely because I think it’s a great subscription package.

 

 

Five on Friday with Cherry Radford @CherryRad

Today I’m delighted to introduce author Cherry Radford, who I first met over on Twitter via a shared love of Spain and flamenco. Themes which feature in her latest book The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter.

Author pic

 

Author Bio 

Cherry has been a keyboard player and a scientist, among other things, but now divides her time between writing and piano teaching, and Eastbourne and Almería (Spain).

So over to Cherry

Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?

Blimey, are all the questions going to be this hard? Having put myself through these agonising decisions, I thought I’d make a Spotify playlist of them: http://sptfy.com/Eyj ENJOY!

Life on Mars? (David Bowie)  – My big brother bought this LP, and I remember sitting on the carpet, legs all anyhow, poring over the album sleeve. Who was this strange, wonderful man? Until then, music had meant my parents’ Light Classics, used by my friend and I for hilarious made-up ballets in the living room. This was something else; Bowie (literally) took me somewhere I’d never been.

Étude Opus 10, No. 3 for Piano (Chopin)  – Fast forward to Music College, where my Polish piano teacher had me playing plenty of Chopin. So beautiful, so emotional… so bloody difficult! Chopin will also remind me of my love of the piano, even if that love is not fully requited (I have pathetically small hands). This is just one of my favourites – and probably one of Jerome Kerns’ too, because Smoke Gets In Your Eyes sounds just like it. [Listens as adds it to Spotify Playlist]. Hm. Bit teary.

Shining (Steel Pulse)  – Let’s cheer up a bit with this irresistible bit of reggae. There’s so much going on in this track – busy bass line, percussion bitty-bobs and delicious vocal harmony asides everywhere – one play is never enough. And oh, the lyrics – including a classic line for a late developer like me: You took your time trying to find out what life, what life, what life has in store for you… You’ve guessed it: my wedding video music.

Como Me Duele Perderte (How it Hurts to Lose You) Gloria Estefan  – I came across this when I started Salsa dancing as part of research for my first novel, Men Dancing. Its bitter-sweet sadness matches both the novel and what was happening in my life at the time, but the song also reminds me of those early exciting but scary days of being a writer.

Dos Puñales (Two Daggers) (Josemi Carmona, Paco de Lucía)  – I’ve done well to limit the flamenco here to 20%, when it’s probably taking up 80% of my iPod. This is a wondrous example of flamenco fusion; it’s earthy but accessible, and beautifully produced. I love the way the music seems to have a narrative – whatever you want. A tweet asking where I could get hold of the album (Las Pequeñas Cosas), followed by a later one asking about this track, eventually led to a stranger-than-fiction (non-virtual) friendship with the artist. This chance connection was the main inspiration for my new novel, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter.

 

Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.

My Piano – I don’t play as much as I like or should, but when I need it (because I’m bored / fed up / nervous / happy / miserable, waiting for something), I have to have it, now. One of the reasons I enjoy teaching piano is that I want my darlings (adults and children) to have this wonderful support and delight in their lives.

The Sea – I’m generally uncomfortable in locations that aren’t near the sea; there’s a sort of a background feeling of if I’m not near the edge, where the hell am I. Exceptions like Madrid and… (can’t actually think of any others right now) have to have a lot going for them. My current distances from the sea (by foot, door to wet toe) are 10 (Eastbourne) and 3.5 (Almería) minutes.

Why do I love it? The salty smell, its ever-changing colours and moods, and (most) of the beautiful creatures in it. I’m susceptible to flour-soft sand, but I also love beaches where I can collect stones and shells. I’m a keen (if three-limbed – see later!) swimmer, and during Summer and Autumn I’ll check the flag, put on my beach shoes and be in whenever I can (in both countries). It’s also the best place (along with the bath) for getting writing and plot ideas.

Home in Spain – I’ve only had this little town house in San José (near Almería) for a couple of years, but now don’t know how I coped without it. My half-Spanish mother brought me up to be a hispanophile, so for as long as I can remember I’ve been drawn to the country and its people. I also get very miserable and lethargic when starved of bright natural light and warmth, so escaping there in school breaks lets me recharge my batteries. Although my Spanish is at a high level, I can still zone out of conversations around me – perfect for writing under a beach umbrella.

Thai Food – I’m not a foodie, but I’m insanely excited about these fragrant and spicy flavours and the flowery presentation. Spain needs to discover it; its absence there is one of the few reasons I ever want to come back to Blighty.

My mobile – It would probably do me good to live without my mobile for a while, I’m on it far too much, but the pain of being separated from my WhatsApping friends (including Spanish ones I can’t see as much as I’d like), Twittermates and Instagram would be considerable.

Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?

Put more face, hand and sun cream on – I thought I’d be young forever. But if I’m still not listening now, I certainly wouldn’t have listened then. Sticky, messy stuff.

Label and date your photos – Uh, those boxes of loose photos with vaguely recalled faces and scenery…

Don’t lose contact with people you care about – Petty arguments or laziness caused me to lose contact with some friends.

Lighten up! – I was such an intense young person, playing melancholy piano and sitting around reading Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. Can’t think how anyone put up with me. A year abroad (with light and warmth!) would have done me good.

Yes, you can write a book! – I should have taken the course, bought one of those elasticated leather notebooks, stopped making excuses, and started writing much earlier.

 

Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.

I used to be a keyboard player in a band – For some years, I was a piano teacher doing the day and played in a band a few nights a week. The second band I joined even had a single out; I’ll be in trouble for not including it in my five soundtracks, but you’d be glad I didn’t!

I used to be a post-doctoral scientist – I re-trained, and worked for Moorfields Eye Hospital for many years as an optometrist and post-doctoral researcher.

I used to be a ballerina …at the Royal Ballet.  – No, just kidding! But I did teach piano at the Royal Ballet Junior School for some years – and get free tickets. Maybe in my next life.

I have limited use of my right arm – I have a congenital problem with my shoulder that makes it painful for me to open a door or lift anything as heavy as a hardback book with it. An operation didn’t help. But I can somehow do reasonable flamenco arms, and swim without going around in circles!

I almost died of pneumonia over the millennium – The last eighteen years – including the publication of my three novels – have been a bonus.

 

What are the first 5 things you’d have on your bucket list?

Having my book out in Spanish – The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter has equal male and female, English and Spanish viewpoints – Bicultural People Fiction! I’d love to see it in Spanish, and give it to some of my Spanish friends whose English isn’t good enough to read it in its present form.

Tour South America – I’d like to visit the places where my half-Spanish mother grew up, and more. My cousin and I have talked about it, but… This is what I should have been doing in my maudlin early twenties!

Learn how to high dive – Researching high diving for my next novel, this has become my new ballet. Ah, and I’d like Greg Louganis to teach me (check out the documentary film Back on Board and you’ll see why – what a lovely man).

Learn how to cook Thai food – Family over shoulder: ‘What? Learn how to cook any food!’

Have a grandchild – But not too soon, boys!

Thanks so much for taking part Cherry, some fascinating revelations – I love your previous employments – we need to know what that single was! Regarding music, many thanks for including a Spotify link. I just need to access your flamenco list now (no you don’t I can hear my husband cry!) I hope you get to achieve your bucket list dreams, hopefully the first one won’t  be too far off. 

o-0-o

Cherry’s Book’s

 

The Lighthouse Keeper's DaughterThe Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter

After the break-up of her marriage, Imogen escapes to her aunt’s converted lighthouse on Beachy Head. Writing for a tedious online magazine but hoping to start a novel, she wants to be alone until she finds an entrancing flamenco CD in her borrowed car and contacts the artist via Twitter. It turns out that actor-musician Santiago needs help with English, and is soon calling her profesora.

Through her window, the other lighthouse winks at her across the sea. The one where her father was a keeper, until he mysteriously drowned there in 1982. Her aunt is sending extracts from his diary, and Imogen is intrigued to learn that, like her and Santi, her father had a penfriend.

Meanwhile, despite their differences Imogen is surrounded by emotional and geographical barriers, Santi surrounded by family and land-locked Madrid their friendship develops. So, she reads, did her father’s but shocking revelations cause Imogen to question whether she ever really knew him.

Two stories of communication: the hilarious mistakes, the painful misunderstandings, and the miracle or tragedy of finding someone out there with whom you have an unforeseen, irresistible connection.

 

Flamenco BabyFlamenco Baby

Musician and dance enthusiast Yolande has just finished with yet another faithless boyfriend, even though her body clock is ticking wildly and she longs for a child. However much gay best friend and ideal man Jeremy adores her, he refuses to be the father. Should she relent and take back her repentant ex? Conceive with a sperm donor? She has become entranced by flamenco, music of the outcasts – could seeds secretly planted at a London flamenco evening with enigmatic dancer Fernando Morales begin to flower into a ‘flamenco baby’? Then, while Yolande starts a cosy relationship with a teacher on her flamenco course in Granada, Jeremy becomes drawn to Fernando – and so begins a whirl of secrecy, love and jealousy that has them all wondering if, in the spirit of flamenco, they dare to give the truth.

 

Men DancingMen Dancing

A chance meeting with a performer you’ve always admired – an exciting story to tell your family and friends. But not if that excitement won’t go away, and turns into the chronic ache of obsession…Dr Rosie Buchanan – weary hospital scientist, frustrated musician, cheated wife and struggling mother – finds herself sitting next to charismatic Royal Ballet star Alejandro Cortes on a London train. Half an hour and a shared bag of errant Maltesers later, she starts to feel she’s misheard her true calling – and is soon doing research of a very different kind. Rosie arranges a bogus research visit at Alejandro’s home, and is thrilled when he and his girlfriend ask her to become their piano teacher. And she tries to overcome the pain of her failing marriage to former soulmate Jez, and the obsession with Alejandro, by accepting consolation from an old friend, consultant Ricardo Pereira. But so begins a complex dance of passion, betrayal, loss and redemption..

 

Keep up to date with Cherry on social media, she’d love to hear from you!

She chats about writing and other passions on her BLA BLA LAND blog,

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May Book Haul

Another good haul this month, not diminished by having a week away!  I think I might have to adopt the wardrobe principle of a new item in means an existing one has to go!

Kindle Purchases

 

The Day That Never ComesThe Day that Never Comes by Caimh McDonnell

Remember those people that destroyed the economy and then cruised off on their yachts? Well guess what – someone is killing them.

Dublin is in the middle of a heat wave and tempers are running high. The Celtic Tiger is well and truly dead, activists have taken over the headquarters of a failed bank, the trial of three unscrupulous property developers teeters on the brink of collapse, and in the midst of all this, along comes a mysterious organisation hell-bent on exacting bloody vengeance in the name of the little guy.

Paul Mulchrone doesn’t care about any of this; he has problems of his own. His newly established detective agency is about to be DOA. One of his partners won’t talk to him for very good reasons and the other has seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth for no reason at all. Can he hold it together long enough to figure out what Bunny McGarry’s colourful past has to do with his present absence?

When the law and justice no longer mean the same thing, on which side will you stand?

 

In the Cold Dark GroundIn the Cold Dark Ground by Stuart MacBride

Trouble is coming…

Sergeant Logan McRae’s team find a body dumped in the woods – but is it the missing businessman they’ve been searching for, or something far more sinister? It doesn’t help that his ex-boss is taking over the case, a new Superintendent has it in for him, and Professional Standards are looming.

Even worse: Aberdeen’s criminal overlord, Wee Hamish Mowat, is dying and rival gangs all over the UK are eying his territory.

There’s a war brewing and Logan’s trapped right in the middle, whether he likes it or not.

 

The Sapphire WidowThe Sapphire Widow by Dinah Jefferies

Ceylon, 1935. Louisa Reeve, the daughter of a successful British gem trader, and her husband Elliot, a charming, thrill-seeking businessman, seem like the couple who have it all. Except what they long for more than anything: a child.

While Louisa struggles with miscarriages, Elliot is increasingly absent, spending much of his time at a nearby cinnamon plantation, overlooking the Indian ocean. After his sudden death, Louisa is left alone to solve the mystery he left behind. Revisiting the plantation at Cinnamon Hills, she finds herself unexpectedly drawn towards the owner Leo, a rugged outdoors man with a chequered past. The plantation casts a spell, but all is not as it seems. And when Elliot’s shocking betrayal is revealed, Louisa has only Leo to turn to…

 

A Home at Honeysuckle FarmA Home at Honeysuckle Farm by Christie Barlow

A family secret

One shocking argument and ten-year-old Alice Parker’s world was turned upside down. Her peaceful life at Honeysuckle Farm in the quiet rural village of Brook Bridge swapped for the bustling metropolis of New York City. Alice’s life was changed forever…

A second chance

Now, thirteen years later, Alice’s American dream is over. With her life in tatters, there is only one place Alice wants to be… home at Honeysuckle Farm. So, when Alice learns her beloved Grandie is ill, she knows this is her last chance to heal the family rift.

A forever home?

But secrets still swirl in Brook Bridge, and Alice is no closer to discovering the truth. And for some reason her new friendship with local heartthrob Sam Reid seems to be making the locals tense.

Sick of the lies Alice knows it’s time to lay the past to rest once and for all. But could the truth ruin her hopes of ever calling Honeysuckle Farm home again?

 

Forest DancerForest Dancer by Susan Roebuck 

Work to impress, dance to express.

It’s a long way to go to create a new life for yourself.

Classical ballerina, Flora Gatehouse, has no choice but to take a risk. Having failed an important ballet audition in London, she moves to a small cottage in a forest just outside Lisbon, Portugal, her only inheritance following her father’s death.

Soon, Flora is involved in village life, where fate takes a new twist when she becomes attracted to forest ranger, Marco. But they are off to a shaky start.

Can Flora find acceptance in a foreign land, in a magical place that harbours secrets and heartache?

 

Our Summer TogetherOur Summer Together by Fanny Blake

Caro knows how to be a mother – advising her grown-up daughters on career and relationship worries. She knows how to be a grandmother – enjoying the hectic energy of her three-year-old grandson. She knows how to be a daughter – helping her aging mother retain her independence.

She thought she knew everything about being a wife, but when her husband suddenly leaves her for another woman, everything is thrown in the air. So, when a chance meeting introduces her to Damir – younger, intriguing and attentive – she realises that opening up to a man so different from everyone else in her life, might also mean getting to know who she really is…

 

Murder on the MarshesMurder on the Marshes by Clare Chase (on pre-order due 31st July)

As the sun rises, a wealthy young woman – Samantha Seabrook – is found drowned in the ornamental fountain of a deserted Cambridge courtyard, the only clue – an antique silver chain wound tightly around her throat.

It’s Tara Thorpe’s job to discover what happened to Miss Seabrook – but the case becomes personal when she learns that Samantha had been receiving death threats… rather like the one that landed on Tara’s doorstep the night the woman died.

Together with Detective Inspector Garstin Blake, Tara tracks the killer to the dank and dangerous fens on the outskirts of the city. But there’s something Tara can’t quite admit to Blake about her past – and it could make all the difference to whether they live… or die.

 

The Memories of UsThe Memories of Us by Vanessa Carnevale

One moment can change your life

When Gracie Ashcroft wakes after a crash with severe amnesia, she must choose whether to live a life through other people’s memories or to start a new life all her own.

Discovering her late mother left her an old flower farm, Gracie leaves her fiancé, best friend and the home full of forgotten memories behind, hoping to learn who she is now.

Torn between wishing she could remember and afraid of losing what she now has, Gracie starts to wonder: if you had your time over, would you live the same life twice?

 

The PhotographThe Photograph by Debbie Rixpreorder due 27 June

Italy, 1958: Rachael is a young widow with a small child. After a lifetime of running for survival, of not knowing who to trust and where to call home, she finds herself in a place of safety. On a sun-drenched Italian island for one carefree summer the troubles of her past fade away and she falls in love. But will Rachael’s new-found happiness bring her further heartache?

England, 2017: Sophie has a handsome husband, a gorgeous house in the English countryside and a successful career as an anthropologist. But the one thing she longs for is a baby of her own. As she struggles to conceive, cracks begin to appear in her marriage. So Sophie throws herself into her work and tries to seek comfort in childhood memories of her beloved grandmother Rachael.

One afternoon, Sophie finds a forgotten letter and an exquisite silk bracelet hidden in Rachael’s old writing desk. Intrigued, she begins to unravel the extraordinary story of her grandmother’s past – and a secret that has the power to change everything…

 

HomeHome by Amanda Berriman

Meet Jesika, aged four and a half. The most extraordinary narrator of 2018.

She lives in a flat with her mother and baby brother and she knows a lot. She knows their flat is high up and the stairs are smelly. She knows she shouldn’t draw on the peeling wallpaper or touch the broken window. And she knows she loves her mummy and baby brother Toby.

She does not know that their landlord is threatening to evict them and that Toby’s cough is going to get much worse. Or that Paige, her new best friend, has a secret that will explode their world.

 

Oh! What a PavlovaOh! What a Pavlova by Isabella May

Kate Clothier is leading a double life: a successful jet-setting businesswoman to the outside world, but behind closed doors, life with Daniel and his volcanic temper is anything but rosy.

Some days – heck, make that EVERY day – cake is her only salvation.

Slowly but surely, the cities she visits – and the men she meets – help her to realise there IS a better future.

And the ley lines of Glastonbury are certainly doing their best to impart their mystical wisdom…

But will she escape before it’s too late?

 

Water and the WineThe Water and the Wine by Tamar Hodes

It is the 1960s and a group of young writers and artists gather on the Greek island of Hydra. Leonard Cohen is at the start of his career and in love with Marianne, who is also muse to her ex-husband, Axel. Australian authors George Johnston and Charmian Clift write, drink and fight. It is a hedonistic time of love, sex and new ideas. As the island hums with excitement, Jack and Frieda Silver join the community, hoping to mend their broken marriage. However, Greece is overtaken by a military junta and the artistic idyll is threatened.

 

Tell Me No SecretsTell me no Secrets by Lynda Stacey

Can a secret be worse than a lie?
Every time Kate Duggan looks in a mirror she is confronted by her guilt; a long, red scar reminding her that she was ‘the one to walk away’ from the car accident. Not everyone was so lucky …
On the surface her fiancé Rob is supportive – but the reality is different. He’s controlling, manipulative and, if the phone call Kate overhears is anything to go by, he has a secret. But just how dangerous is that secret?
When Kate begins work at a firm of private investigators, she meets Ben Parker. His strong and silent persona is intriguing but it’s also a cover – because something devastating happened to Ben, something he can’t get over.
As Kate and Ben begin their first assignment, they become close. But, what they don’t realise is how close to home the investigation will bring them, or who will be hurt in the process …

 

The Bed and Breakfast on the BeachThe Bed and Breakfast on the Beach by Kat French

A Greek island solves all life’s problems…doesn’t it?

Winnie, Stella and Frankie have been best friends forever.

When their lives unexpectedly unravel, they spontaneously decide to buy a gorgeous B&B on a remote Greek island. Drenched in hot sun, Villa Valentina is the perfect escape from reality. But when Winnie meets Jesse, their brooding neighbour, she finds that Greece is full of its own complications – not least how attractive he is…

Meanwhile, Frankie and Stella are discovering that Villa Valentina has its own secrets – starting with the large supply of gin in the cellar and the arrival of a famous rock band. A band with one very good-looking member who just might distract Frankie from thoughts of her husband…

 

CursiveCursive by Alex Wyndham Baker

In 1933, Ralph leaves England for a year in East Africa, a test of character forced upon him by his fiancee’s father. We follow his adventures through his letters to Lillian, written with her parting gift – a Mabie Todd Blackbird ink pen – as he takes up his position with The Company. Between these letters Wyndham Baker weaves full-throttle contemporary vignettes following the pen’s legacy of lost love 60 years later, culminating in an ending both deeply moving and satisfying.

 

The Wedding DateThe Wedding date by Zara Stoneley

One ex.
One wedding.
One little white lie.

When Samantha Jenkins is asked to be the maid of honour at her best friend’s wedding, she couldn’t be happier. There are just three problems…

1) Sam’s ex-boyfriend, Liam, will be the best man.
2) His new girlfriend is pregnant.
3) Sam might have told people she has a new man when she doesn’t (see points 1 and 2 above)

So, Sam does the only sensible thing available to her… and hires a professional to do the job.

Actor Jake Porter is perfect for the role: single, gorgeous and cheap! Sam is certain it’s the perfect solution: no strings, no heartbreak and hopefully no chance of being found out.

But spending a week in the Scottish Highlands with Jake is harder than she imagined. He is the perfect boyfriend, charming, sexy and the hottest thing in a kilt since Outlander! And his dog Harry is quite possibly the cutest things Sam has ever seen!

As the wedding draws closer, Jake plays his part to perfection and everyone believes he is madly in love with Sam. The problem is, Sam’s not sure if Jake is acting anymore…

 

My Sister_s SecretMy Sister’s Secret by Tracy Buchanan

Everything you’ve built your life on is a lie

Willow’s memories of her parents are sun-drenched and full of smiles, love and laughter. But a mysterious invitation to a photographic exhibition exposes a secret that’s been buried since a tragic accident years ago.

Willow is forced to question everything she knew about Charity, her late mother, and Hope, the aunt she’s lived with since she was a child.

How was the enigmatic photographer connected to Willow’s parents? Why will Hope not break her silence?

Willow cannot move forward in her life without answers. But who can she really trust? Because no one has been telling the truth for a very long time.

 

Appleby FarmAppleby Farm by Cathy Bramley

Sometimes the life you want isn’t the one you need…

Freya has skirted through life, drifting from place to place and job to job. Always restless, it seems she’s finally found a place to settle down (with a sexy boyfriend to match) in a small and cosy town. But she still finds herself thinking of the rolling hills of her Cumbrian childhood home: Appleby Farm. They’re only dreams though… there’s a life right here ready to be lived.

But a phone call rocks the new life she has built. Tragedy has threatened Appleby Farm and Freya makes the choice to return home, leaving her lovely boyfriend and safe job behind. But maybe the grass at Appleby Farm will be a shade greener this time…

Now, ever-restless Freya must finally make a choice about what she’d like her life to be. With two lives, two men and two futures to choose from… who does she really want to be?

 

The One We Fell in Love WithThe One we Fell in Love With

Phoebe is caught between a rock and a hard place. Settle down and get married, or return to the French Alps to pursue her passion?

Eliza is in love with someone who is no longer hers. In fact, he probably never was… And her dream of becoming a successful musician seems to be vanishing before her eyes.

Rose is out of a job and out of a boyfriend. To make matters worse, she’s been forced to move back in with her mother…

But these very different girls have one thing in common. Angus. The one they fell in love with…

 

An Italian HolidayAn Italian Holiday by Maeve Haran 

Sunshine, warmth, lemon blossom . . .

Springtime in glorious Southern Italy can go to your head. Especially if you are escaping an overbearing husband, the embarrassingly public loss of your company, an interfering mother who still tries to run your life or the pain of a husband’s affair with a girl young enough to be his daughter.

As the Italian sun ripens the lemons in the groves that tumble down the hillsides and the Mediterranean dazzles beneath them, assertive Angela, extrovert Sylvie, unconfident Claire and mousy Monica find burgeoning friendship and begin to blossom in quite unexpected ways.

Packed with memorable characters – from the acid-tongued Grand Old Man of Modern Art who lives next door – to the aspiring gigolo who thinks nothing of a forty year age gap, Maeve Haran’s An Italian Holiday is a witty and entertaining reminder of why going a little mad in the sun can sometimes be exactly what you need.

 

The Backpacking HousewifeThe Backpacking Housewife by Janice Horton

One mum is leaving it all behind for the adventure of a lifetime…

Lorraine Anderson was meant to be making a Sunday roast, not swanning off to Thailand, backpack in hand! But when she finds her husband and her best friend in bed together there’s only one thing to do – grab her passport and never look back!

Now, with each mile travelled Lori sheds the woman she once was and finds the woman she was always meant to be. A woman of passion and spirit who deserves to explore the great unknown…and to indulge in the temptation she encounters along the way!

 

Irrelevant WomenIrrelevant Women by Alice Rosewell

Housewife Fleur and academic Jane have been close friends since college. In different ways their lives have been full and satisfying, and now they are looking forward complacently to easy retirement with the men they love. Long holidays and romantic cruises are on the horizon. Or so they think.

When sudden loss and betrayal leave both of them feeling fragile and uncertain, joining forces for mutual support seems the perfect solution. But so much intimacy exposes secrets that each had thought to keep concealed for ever. Will their friendship survive the revelations of scandalous behaviour?

 

Don't Make a SoundDon’t Make a Sound by David Jackson

You can’t choose your family. Or can you? 

Meet the Bensons. They’re an ordinary couple. They wash their car, mow their lawn and pass the time of day with their neighbours. And they have a beautiful little girl called Daisy.

There’s just one problem.

SHE’S NOT THEIRS.

D. S. Nathan Cody is about to face his darkest and most terrifying case yet . . .

 

In Winter's GripIn Winter’s Grip by Gordon John Thomson

An historical crime thriller and mystery set in post-war Britain during the terrible winter of 1947.
The action of this period romantic mystery takes place in the city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne two years after the end of the war, as Britain is caught in the grip of the worst winter in a thousand years. As blizzards rage and the country grinds to a frozen standstill, on Tyneside a young German woman, Elsa Platten, goes on trial for her life, accused of deliberately burning a man to death…
Alexander Galbraith is the lawyer hired to defend her, a man undergoing a personal crisis of his own, since his vengeful wife, Virginia, has discovered evidence of a homosexual affair and is threatening to ruin him…
Jack Raisbeck is the owner of the Tyneside shipyard where the murdered man, a Dutchman called Jeroen van Rijn, worked. Jack is a physically scarred and cynical survivor of the war in the North Atlantic but his developing romantic relationship with Elsa in the months before the murder has rejuvenated him. Yet, as Elsa begins her trial, Jack is also struggling to keep his shipyard business alive, beset with a rebellious workforce led by union leader Ernie Wilmot, and with the financial future of his yard hanging in the balance after a recent arson attack and an act of embezzlement by his former chief accountant, George Hetherington.
As the evidence against Elsa unfolds in the course of the trial, she re-lives her past life in Germany and Holland: the rise of the Nazis and the invasion of Holland, her subsequent betrayal and deportation to the East, and her escape and struggle to survive the fall of Berlin.
Jack and Alexander Galbraith both believe in Elsa’s innocence but that belief is strongly tested as the evidence against her grows. The trail to find the truth leads both men in unexpected directions. For Jack it leads to a confrontation with his brother-in-law on a frozen cliff top, and to other disturbing family revelations. For Galbraith it is something even worse – he has to make the ultimate choice between preserving his own career and reputation, or saving his client from the hangman…

 

How to Bake a New BeginningHow to Bake a New Beginning by Lucy Osterfeld – preorder due 9 September

Three sisters. One trip to Italy. The chance to change their lives.

Amanda has always taken the role of big sister seriously. She has her life in order; a fantastic job in a great restaurant, a wonderful house and a best friend who’s a Rockstar. But, Amanda’s beginning to realise that her life is missing one monumental piece…

Sabrina is living the high life in LA. Her Instagram is full of lavish parties, her tweets are brimming with celebrity names, but in reality she’s stuck behind a desk working for a boss who is determined to make her suffer. Is it time for her to stand up and take charge of her life?

Louisa has always been drowned out by her sister’s successes. As the university drop-out she’s always felt third best. But a chance encounter in a little Italian village may be about to change that…

When their beloved grandfather passes away these sisters are forced to take another look at their lives. These three sisters are about to embark on a journey of self-discovery that could just lead them down a road of romance (with a little help from the kitchen)!

 

House HunterThe House Hunter by Henry Sutton

At forty-two, Eleanor Mitchell has been married to an unexciting man for eleven years and lived in the same South-East London house for fifteen, has no children and has just lost her job.

Something has to change – so she elects to move house. Yet on her odyssey around London, Eleanor finds she’s more interested in the occupants than their homes, imagining their situations and relationships, putting herself in their shoes.

Then she begins to notice odd connections between them. Or is she imagining these too?

 

Fault LinesFault Lines by Doug Johnstone

A little lie … a seismic secret … and the cracks are beginning to show…

In a reimagined contemporary Edinburgh, where a tectonic fault has opened up to produce a new volcano in the Firth of Forth, and where tremors are an everyday occurrence, volcanologist Surtsey makes a shocking discovery.
On a clandestine trip to new volcanic island The Inch, to meet Tom, her lover and her boss, she finds his lifeless body, and makes the fatal decision to keep their affair, and her discovery, a secret. Desperate to know how he died, but also terrified she’ll be exposed, Surtsey’s life quickly spirals into a nightmare when someone makes contact – someone who claims to know what she’s done…

 

A Necessary EvilA Necessary Evil by Abir Mukherjee

India, 1920. Captain Sam Wyndham and Sergeant Banerjee of Calcutta Police must investigate the dramatic assassination of a Maharaja’s son…

Sam Wyndham is visiting the kingdom of Sambalpore, home to diamond mines and the beautiful Palace of the Sun.

But when the Maharaja’s eldest son is assassinated, Wyndham realises that the realm is riven with conflict. Prince Adhir was unpopular with religious groups, while his brother – now in line to the throne – appears to be a feckless playboy.

As Wyndham and Sergeant ‘Surrender-not’ Banerjee endeavour to unravel the mystery, they become entangled in a dangerous world. They must find the murderer, before the murderer finds them.

 

The Indigo RebelsThe Indigo Rebels by Ellie Midwood

France, 1940

The German army has marched into Paris. Three siblings, three very different people leading very different lives, find themselves face to face with new occupants of their city, and none of them can guess what the occupation has in store for them, and how it will change their lives once and for all.

Giselle Legrand, a renowned novelist and a socialite, encounters an unannounced guest in her apartment – a newly arrived chief of the Gestapo, Sturmbannführer Dr. Karl Wünsche, who is intended to billet there and who soon starts making rather unwelcome changes in Giselle’s lifestyle. Strong-willed and defiant, Giselle gets involved with one of the first Resistance cells, refusing to submit to the newly established authority despite the developing relationship between the two.

Kamille Blanchard, a new widow of the war left alone with a small daughter, is dreading the approaching army. However, she never expected that she could find love in the arms of an officer, who appears at her door as soon as the German army marches in. But will Kamille be able to trust a former enemy when he has to choose between his feelings and the duty for his country?

Marcel Legrand, a former history student and a deserter, fearing the capture by the Germans has no other choice than ask for the help from the ones he used to fear and avoid – the mysterious communists, who call for an uprising and freeing their country from the Nazi plague.

Soon, the fates of all three siblings will become intertwined in a dangerous knot, all of them, fighting for the same goal: a liberated France.

 

My Husband_s LiesMy Husband’s Lies by Caroline England

Do you really know your friends?

On the afternoon of Nick and Lisa’s wedding, their close friend is found poised on a hotel window ledge, ready to jump.

As the shock hits their friendship group, they soon realise that none of them are being as honest with themselves – or with each other – as they think.

And there are secrets lurking that could destroy everything.

 

The Gravity of LoveThe Gravity of Love by Noelle Harrison

In love, there’s no such thing as a coincidence …

Scottsville, Arizona, 1989

In small-town America, Joy Sheldon loves the plants that bloom in the desert but longs too for the sea’s elemental wildness. It’s a dream never realised – and now, facing the brutal truth that her husband is a cheat, Joy learns of unimaginable secrets in her early life. Riven by betrayal and loss, a chance encounter with the enigmatic Lewis, Joy embarks on a journey to seek her true identity – and to discover why the sea pulls so strongly at her heart.

Soho, London, 1967

Lewis Bell, abandoned by his mother and responsible for his wayward sister, is now living the dream. An ambitious young graphic designer, he’s aiming for the big time – if only he can keep his creative spark. His talented girlfriend Marnie adds pressures of her own and, as Lewis’s troubles intensify, sixties London fast shows its darker side.

Ballycastle, Ireland, Easter, 1989

Unexpectedly drawn together, Joy and Lewis fly across the Atlantic to the Irish coast. She’s in search of a lost mother; he’s looking for a lost love. They need to make peace with the past, with themselves and others. But the truths they encounter and connections they create will transform everyone’s lives forever.

 

You Me EverythingYou, Me, Everything by Catherine Isaac

Jess and her ten-year-old son William set off to spend the summer at Château de Roussignol, deep in the rich, sunlit hills of the Dordogne. There, Jess’s ex-boyfriend and William’s father, Adam, runs a beautiful hotel in a restored castle. Jess is bowled over by what Adam has accomplished, but she’s in France for a much more urgent reason: to make Adam connect with his own son. Jess can’t allow Adam to let their son down because she is tormented by a secret of her own, one that nobody – especially William – must discover.

By turns life-affirming, heart-wrenching and joyful, You Me Everything is a novel about one woman’s fierce determination to grab hold of the family she has and never let go, and a romantic story as heady as a crisp Sancerre on a summer day.

 

What Doesn't Kill YouWhat Doesn’t Kill You by Laura E James

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – but how strong can one person be?
Griff Hendry knows what it is to be strong. After a turbulent past, he’s dedicated himself to saving lives, working as a coastguard along the breath-taking shores of Dorset. It’s Griff’s belief that everyone is worth saving – which is why he can’t forgive his father, Logan, for what he did.
Griff’s future is plunged into uncertainty when his wife, Evie, tells him she wants a separation. The revelation is a shock and leads Griff to question what Evie could possibly be hiding – and she isn’t the only one holding back. Griff’s troubled stepdaughter, Tess, also harbours a dark secret.
As the truth is uncovered, Griff is forced to accept that perhaps he’s never understood what real strength is.

 

Broken BonesBroken Bones by Angela Marsons

They thought they were safe. They were wrong.

The murder of a young prostitute and a baby found abandoned on the same winter night signals the start of a disturbing investigation for Detective Kim Stone – one which brings her face to face with someone from her own horrific childhood.

As three more sex workers in the Black Country are murdered in quick succession, each death more violent than the last, Kim and her team realise that the initial killing was no one-off frenzied attack, but a twisted serial killer preying on the vulnerable.

At the same time, the search begins for the desperate woman who left her newborn baby at the station – but what at first looks like a tragic abandonment soon takes an even more sinister turn.

When another young woman goes missing, the two investigations bring the team into a terrifying, hidden world, and a showdown puts Kim’s life at risk as secrets from her own past come to light.

As Kim battles her own demons, can she stop the killer, before another life is lost?

 

Summer at Coastguard CottagesSummer at Coastguard Cottages by Jennifer Bohnet

Karen is escaping to her little cottage on the Devonshire coast this summer – it’s the perfect way to forget about her ex-husband. So she’s surprised to find love again when she least expected it!

Bruce is learning to live again after the death of his beloved wife. She loved their cottage by the sea but Bruce is torn by the bitter sweet memories – should he sell up and stay in the city?

Carrie is at a crossroads in her life after inheriting a fortune from the father she never met. Now she must make a life-changing decision that will affect her new friends, too…

Could eight weeks at Coastguard Cottages change all of their lives – forever?

 

The RuinThe Ruin by Dervla McTiernan

THE SECRETS OF THE PAST WILL EXPOSE THE CRIMES OF THE PRESENT …

On his first week on the job, Garda Cormac Reilly responds to a call at a decrepit country house to find two silent, neglected children waiting for him – fifteen-year-old Maude and five-year-old Jack. Their mother lies dead upstairs.

Twenty years later, Cormac has left his high-flying career as a detective in Dublin and returned to Galway. As he struggles to navigate the politics of a new police station, Maude and Jack return to haunt him.

What ties a recent suicide to the woman’s death so long ago? And who among his new colleagues can Cormac really trust?

 

Closer to HomeCloser to Home by Heleyne Hammersley

Family. Secrets. Murder.

Newly promoted DI Kate Fletcher has reluctantly returned to her home town after a twenty-year absence and a recent divorce.  The discovery of a child’s body near the estate where Kate grew up has her rushing back to Thorpe – a place of bad memories and closed mouths.

As her team investigate the murder, they keep hitting dead ends. The community is reluctant to reopen old wounds and retell old stories.  But Kate’s history refuses to stay buried.

Then another child disappears…

Can Kate solve the case and right the wrongs from her past?

 

Spring at the Little Duck PondSpring at the Little Duck Pond by Rosie Green

Fleeing from a romance gone wrong, Ellie Farmer arrives in the pretty little village of Sunnybrook, hoping for a brand new start that most definitely does not include love! Following an unscheduled soak in the village duck pond, she meets Sylvia, who runs the nearby Duck Pond Café. Renting the little flat above the café seems like the answer to Ellie’s prayers. It’s only for six months, which will give her time to sort out her life, far away from cheating boyfriend Richard.

But is running away from your past ever really the answer?

Clashing with the mysterious and brooding Zack Chamberlain, an author with a bad case of writer’s block, is definitely not what Ellie needs right now. And then there’s Sylvia, who’s clinging so hard to her past, she’s in danger of losing the quaint but run-down Duck Pond Café altogether.

Can Ellie find the answers she desperately needs in Sunnybrook? And will she be able to help save Sylvia’s little Duck Pond Café from closure?

 

Unlikely Heroics of Sam HollowayThe Unlikely Heroics of Sam Holloway by Rhys Thomas

Sam Holloway has survived the worst that life can throw at you. But he’s not really living. His meticulous routines keep everything nice and safe – with just one exception…

Three nights a week, Sam dons his superhero costume and patrols the streets. It makes him feel invincible – but his unlikely heroics are getting him into some sticky, and increasingly dangerous, situations.

Then a girl comes into his life, and his ordered world is thrown into chaos … and now Sam needs to decide whether he can be brave enough to finally take off the mask.

Both hilarious and heart-warming, this is a story about love, loneliness, grief, and the life-changing power of kindness.

 

Tin ManTin Man by Sarah Winman

It begins with a painting won in a raffle: fifteen sunflowers, hung on the wall by a woman who believes that men and boys are capable of beautiful things.

And then there are two boys, Ellis and Michael,
who are inseparable.
And the boys become men,
and then Annie walks into their lives,
and it changes nothing and everything.

 

 

The Songs of UsThe Songs of Us by Emma Cooper

If Melody hadn’t run out of de-icer that day, she would never have slipped and banged her head. She wouldn’t be left with a condition that makes her sing when she’s nervous. And she definitely wouldn’t have belted out the Arctic Monkeys’ ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ in assembly at her son’s school.

If Dev hadn’t taken the kids to the zoo that day, then the accident wouldn’t have happened. He wouldn’t have left Flynn and Rose without a dad. Or shattered the love of his life’s heart.

But if they hadn’t seen the missing person report that day, they might never have taken the trip to Cornwall. And, in the last place they expected, discovered what it really means to be ‘Us’.

 

Giveaway Wins 

 

Vengeance in VeniceVengeance in Venice by Philip Gwynne Jones (with thanks to Tripfiction)

Murder is the deadliest art . . .

An invitation to an exclusive event during the Venetian Biennale gives Honorary Consul Nathan Sutherland the perfect chance to drink prosecco in the sunshine and meet some of the greats of the art world.

And then a world-famous critic is decapitated by one of the installations in the British Pavilion. A terrible accident, it seems, until a postcard is discovered in the victim’s pocket: an image of Judith beheading Holofernes.

But this is not just a one-off. Before long, three more postcards have been sent out with deadly results. As the bodies pile up, Nathan finds himself getting closer and closer to the truth, but when he himself receives an image of Death bearing a scythe, it becomes a race against time to save his own life . . .

 

ARC’s

 

Lost Letters of William WoolfThe Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen (with thanks to Michael Joseph)

Lost letters have only one hope for survival . . .

Inside the Dead Letters Depot in East London, William Woolf is one of thirty letter detectives who spend their days solving mysteries: Missing postcodes, illegible handwriting, rain-smudged ink, lost address labels, torn packages, forgotten street names – they are all the culprits of missed birthdays, broken hearts, unheard confessions, pointless accusations, unpaid bills and unanswered prayers.

When William discovers letters addressed simply to ‘My Great Love’ his work takes on new meaning. Written by a woman to a soulmate she hasn’t met yet, the missives stir William in ways he didn’t know were possible. Soon he begins to wonder: Could William be her great love?

William must follow the clues in Winter’s letters to solve his most important mystery yet: the human heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our House by Louise Candlish – 4*s @louise_candlish @simonschusterUK @BookMinxSJV #bookreview

Our House

Amazon Blurb

On a bright morning in the London suburbs, a family moves into the house they’ve just bought on Trinity Avenue. Nothing strange about that. Except it’s your house. And you didn’t sell it.

FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE.
When Fi Lawson arrives home to find strangers moving into her house, she is plunged into terror and confusion. She and her husband Bram have owned their home on Trinity Avenue for years and have no intention of selling. How can this other family possibly think the house is theirs? And why has Bram disappeared when she needs him most?

FOR RICHER, FOR POORER.
Bram has made a catastrophic mistake and now he is paying. Unable to see his wife, his children or his home, he has nothing left but to settle scores. As the nightmare takes grip, both Bram and Fi try to make sense of the events that led to a devastating crime. What has he hidden from her – and what has she hidden from him? And will either survive the chilling truth – that there are far worse things you can lose than your house? 

TILL DEATH US DO PART.

 

My Review

I was hooked on this from the beginning – what a great opening to a book. It would have to be one of your worst nightmares, coming home to find someone else moving into your house. Of course at this stage we don’t know what has happened, whether Fi is telling the truth or whether she’s mistaken/confused and I defy you to not want to stick around to find out.

The story that unravels is told from the viewpoints of Fi and her husband Bram. Fi’s is told after the event through her appearance on The Victim, a true crime podcast, while Bram reveals all via a Word document being written to an initially, unidentified reader. It’s a clever construct, that allows commentators on the podcast to voice some of our thoughts on Fi’s story; while Bram’s story means we are party to exactly what is going on and why, while Fi remains in the dark. Though that doesn’t mean there aren’t twists in the tale, or the telling. I have no intention of regaling any of the plot, that pleasure is all yours to discover for yourself.

This is a dark domestic drama (and no that isn’t a euphemism for abuse), that quickly spirals out of control as each error compounds the one before. The characterisation is very well done, and the format means you really do get inside of  both Fi’s and Bram’s heads. Heads which at times I wanted to knock together, hers for her unending (and to my mind, at times, unbelievable) reasonableness and his for … well that would be telling.

It’s a very modern tale, not just in it’s telling, but also in its themes. While at times I thought the plot implausible, a quick look at any newspaper report of frauds and scams would reveal virtually anything is possible, and most of them work, exactly because no-one believes anyone would do such a thing. Despite all the warnings to the contrary, we all want to believe the best and take people and things at face value. This book is a very cautionary tale about not doing just that.

This is the first book I’ve read by this author, but based on this outing I’ll definitely be reading more. This was definitely a thrilling read, that kept me gripped, on edge and Oh! that ending …

I received an unsolicited copy of this book from the publisher that I decided to read and offer my thoughts on.

 

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland – 4.5*’s @under_blue_sky @BonnierZaffre #bookreview

Amazon Blurb

Ailsa Rae is learning how to live.

She’s only a few months past the heart transplant that – just in time – saved her life. Life should be a joyful adventure. But . . .

Her relationship with her mother is at breaking point and she wants to find her father.
Have her friends left her behind?
And she’s felt so helpless for so long that she’s let polls on her blog make her decisions for her. She barely knows where to start on her own.

Then there’s Lennox. Her best friend and one time lover. He was sick too. He didn’t make it. And now she’s supposed to face all of this without him.

But her new heart is a bold heart. 

She just needs to learn to listen to it . . .

 

My Review

This is a heartwarming and uplifting book, though don’t be fooled, it has it’s darker moments. But then that’s life, a balance of light and shade, but happily the book is definitely running towards the light.

After a life waiting, and literally dying for a heart transplant, Ailsa has her new heart (nicknamed ‘Apple’). Sadly, her best friend, Lennox wasn’t so lucky, so Ailsa is determined to live life for both of them. The strange thing is, Ailsa initially has difficulty with the concept of living. She’s spent so long, never knowing how long she might live, that planning for the future and actually living fully is something she’s never really done. So it’s a scary world out there when you really have to engage fully and not hide behind the mask of illness. Illness gives you a get out clause, a reason to not always fully take part, but Ailsa has lost her safety net. Worse still, in trying to move forward, she’s also trying to cut the ties that bind her to her other safety net, her mother.

Ailsa has also used her blog to get her  through her illness (something I can identify with) and has also used it as a medium for making decisions. When she faces a choice or dilemma it becomes a question for her readers to vote on. But even that has to change now surely?

For the first time in her life, she’s looking at doing things on her own, running her flat, getting a job and pursuing new friendships and interests. Despite being 28 and having been to University, she has never really stood on her own two feet. Coincidentally it is her two feet, that introduce her to a new interest that will play a large part in helping her to move forward – a tango class. That combined with meeting another transplantee will prove a catalyst for change.

The story, both past and present, is interestingly told with the inclusion of  blog posts, newspaper reports, emails and texts. It really encompasses the media we all use to communicate and also highlights its failings as well as it’s pluses. What you read and see is not always the ‘truth’ and sometimes we read and see only what we want to see.

I loved following Ailsa on her tentative journey into fully fledged adulthood, with all its ups and downs. I really felt like I was in her shoes, which is testament to the author’s writing skill’s. This was an enlightening story, about the realities of waiting for a transplant and living with such a condition, as well as coping with a successful transplant. What I hadn’t expected was a story line that took me into an intriguing and unexpected blend of Strictly Come Dancing meets Shakespeare – and if that doesn’t interest you I don’t know what will. Ultimately it’s a book that looks at life and living. It’s about families, friendships and acceptance, especially of yourself. It’s about being confident in your own skin and your own choices, because ultimately only you can live your life.