If this haul is bigger than usual I’m blaming the fact that a few slipped in from last month as I was away and without internet access to update the scheduled post. (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!). Click on image for buying link (these are not affiliated links).
August and September’s Unbound Reading Club Books
The Backstreets of Purgatory by Helen Taylor
Finn Garvie’s life is one spectacular mess. He spends most of his time fannying around a makeshift Glasgow studio, failing to paint his degree portfolio, while his girlfriend Lizzi treats him like one of her psychology patients, and his best friend Rob is convinced that the tattoos he designs are the height of artistic achievement.
To top it all, Finn is worried that some stinking bastard is hanging around, spying on him, laughing at his cock-ups and eating his leftover curry. Fortunately, he has plenty of techniques to distract him – tackling the church hall renovations with the help of his alcoholic neighbour; pining after Kassia, the splendidly stroppy au-pair; and re-reading that book on Caravaggio, his all-time hero.
Things take a turn for the strange when he finally encounters the person who’s been bugging him, and it seems to be none other than Caravaggio himself…
Agrippina: Empress Exile Hustler Whore by Emma Southon
Agrippina the Younger held a unique position in the first Roman imperial family. As great niece of Tiberius, sister of Caligula, wife of Claudius and mother of Nero she stood at the centre of power in the Roman empire for three generations. Even in her own time, she was recognised as a woman of unparalleled power. From exile to being hailed empress, across three marriages and three widowhoods, her life, power and role were extraordinary in their scope and drama. Beautiful and intelligent, she is alternately a ruthless murderer and helpless victim, the most loving mother and the most powerful woman of the Roman empire. She is portrayed in ancient sources as using sex, motherhood, manipulation and violence to get her way, and single-minded in her pursuit of power for herself and her son. Agrippina’s life sheds light on the Julio-Claudian dynasty and Rome at its height – the chaos, blood and politics of it all – as well as the place of women in the Roman world.
This book follows Agrippina as a daughter, born to the expected heir to Augustus’s throne, who was then orphaned, as a sister to Caligula who raped his sisters and showered them with honours until they attempted rebellion against him and were exiled, as a seductive niece and then wife to Claudius who gave her access to near unlimited power, and then as a mother to Nero who adored her until he killed her. She was 44 when she died. It takes us from the camps of Germany during a mutiny, through senatorial political intrigue, assassination attempts and exile to a small island, to the heights of imperial power, thrones and golden cloaks and games and adoration. We will see Agrippina found her own city (Cologne), live up to and then flaunt the greatest ideals of Roman femininity and motherhood, and explore the absolute limits of female power in Rome. The biography of Agrippina is also the biography of the first Roman imperial family – the Julio-Claudians, and of the empire itself.
The Wife Before Me by Laura Elliot
One evening as the sun is setting, Amelia Madison’s car slides into the sea off Mason’s Pier. Her body is never found.
Two years later, Elena Langdon meets Nicholas Madison. She is grieving the loss of her mother, he is grieving for his wife. Together they can help each other.
Now Elena is living with Nicholas. But Elena doesn’t really know him. She doesn’t know what he is capable of.
And she doesn’t know what really happened to Amelia.
Until the day she discovers the torn page of a letter and the words she reads chill her to the bone.
Elena must find the person who wrote these letters if she is to save herself.
Love Like Blood by Mark Billingham
A BLOODY MESSAGE
As DI Nicola Tanner investigates what appears to be a series of organised killings, her partner Susan is brutally murdered, leaving the detective bereft, and vengeful.
A POWERFUL ALLY
Taken off the case, Tanner enlists the help of DI Tom Thorne to pursue a pair of ruthless killers and the broker handing out the deadly contracts.
A CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE
As the killers target their latest victim, Thorne takes the biggest risk of his career and is drawn into a horrifying and disturbing world in which families will do anything to protect their honour.
Keep me Safe by Daniela Sacerdoti
Can a tiny Scottish island bring a heart back to life.. and offer a second chance at love?
When Anna’s partner walks away from their relationship, she is shattered. But it is her little girl Ava who takes it hardest of all, falling silent for three days. When she does finally speak, Ava talks about a new place – a small island of beauty, salt and sea in the Western Scottish Isles. In search of a new start, Anna and Ava embark on a journey to the remote and gorgeous Island of Seal. Falling in love with the locals and the landscape, could Seal offer the second chance they both need?
The Rules of Seeing by Joe Heap
Nova is 32 years old and she is about to see the world for the very first time.
Jillian Safinova, Nova to her friends, can do many things. She can speak five languages. She can always find a silver lining. And she can even tell when someone is lying just from the sound of their voice.
But there’s one thing Nova can’t do. She can’t see.
When her brother convinces her to have an operation that will restore her sight, Nova wakes up to a world she no longer understands. Until she meets Kate.
As Kate comes into focus, her past threatens to throw them into a different kind of darkness. Can they each learn to see the world in a different … and open their eyes to the lives they could have been living all along?
The Happiness List by Annie Lyons
Life is about to change forever…
Heather is finally back on Hope Street after running from the memories for so long. She hasn’t bumped into many neighbours yet but with her upcoming wedding to plan there’s plenty to keep her busy!
Fran is still trying to get used to a life without her husband by her side. It’s hard enough raising two children on her own – she doesn’t have time to even think about dating…
Pamela is fed up with being taken for granted by her grown-up children and grumbling husband. She’s ready to shake things up a little, but will her family even notice?
So when the three women hear about a ‘happiness course’ starting on Hope Street, surely it’s the perfect opportunity to let their hair down, laugh with new friends and maybe even change their lives in ways they never expected…
One Day in December by Josie Silver
Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist. After all, life isn’t a scene from the movies, is it? But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.
Laurie thinks she’ll never see the boy from the bus again. But at their Christmas party a year later, her best friend Sarah introduces her to the new love of her life. Who is, of course, the boy from the bus.
Determined to let him go, Laurie gets on with her life. But what if fate has other plans?
The Forget-me-Not Flower Shop by Tracy Corbett
Evie is busy running the Forget-Me-Not Flower Shop and praying for an uplift in sales as soon as possible. She might be in the market of selling romance, but for Evie a new man is the last thing she needs!
That is until plumber Scott Castillo turns up to fix her boiler. She’s definitely not interested. But then, why does she keep ogling his rather attractive forearms? She’s been fooled before – she isn’t about to fall head-over-heels for some smooth-talker, right?
When he isn’t trying to balance paying the bills with caring for his sick mother, Scott has stepped in to help parent his 18-year-old nephew, Ben. Between that and working full time Scott doesn’t have time for romance. Until he meets Evie…
Love doesn’t always bloom the way you expect but for the customers of the Forget-Me-Not Flower Shop it might just be the perfect time for romance…
Relative Strangers by Allie Cresswell
The McKay family gathers for a week-long holiday at a rambling old house to celebrate the fiftieth wedding anniversary of Robert and Mary. In recent years only funerals and sudden, severe illnesses have been able to draw them together and as they gather in the splendid rooms of Hunting Manor, their differences are soon uncomfortably apparent. For all their history, their traditions, the connective strands of DNA, they are relative strangers. There are truths unspoken, but the question is: how much truth can a family really stand?
The family holiday mushrooms, drawing in sundry relatives both estranged and deranged. The machinations of an appalling, uninvited aunt threaten the holiday – and the family – with irreparable damage.
This book will make you question your own family situation. What does it really mean to be ‘family’?
Before Her Eyes by Jack Jordan
She can’t see the killer
But the killer can see her…
Naomi Hannah has been blind since birth. Struggling with living in a small, claustrophobic town, Naomi contemplates ending her life. But then she stumbles across the body of a young woman who has been brutally murdered. She senses someone else there at the scene – watching her. Naomi may not be able to see the killer’s face, but she is still the only person who can identify him.
As the police begin hunting the person responsible and more victims are discovered, Naomi is forced to answer the question on which her fate hangs: why did the killer let her live?
In a town this small, the murderer must be close, perhaps even before her very eyes…
The Letter by Eliza J Scott
To the outside world, she has it all: a chocolate-box pretty home, the perfect marriage to a good-looking and successful criminal barrister and two beautiful children. But you never know what goes on behind closed doors…
Thirty-four-year-old Kitty Bennett is trapped in a loveless marriage to cold-hearted, expert manipulator, Dan, who’s gradually isolated her from her family and friends. Until the day she (literally) bumps into her first love, the handsome and easy-going Ollie Cartwright – someone she’s done her best to avoid for as long as she can remember. Looking into Ollie’s eyes awakens feelings for him she thought she’d buried deep years ago, and he clearly feels the spark, too. As she walks away, Kitty can’t help but wonder what might have been.
Dan senses that his marriage is on shaky ground and knows he needs to win his wife round. He turns on the charm, skilfully using their two children, Lucas and Lily, as bargaining tools. But Kitty’s older brother, Jimby, and her childhood best-friends, Molly and Violet, have decided enough is enough. For years they’ve had to watch from afar as Kitty’s been browbeaten into an unrecognisable version of herself. They vow to make her see Dan for what he really is, but their attempts are no match for his finely-honed courtroom skills and, against her better judgement, Kitty agrees to give her husband one last chance. But, all-too-soon, a series of heart-breaking events and a shocking secret throw her life into turmoil…
Will she stand by Dan, or will Kitty be brave enough to take the leap and follow her heart to Ollie?
Life is anything but peaceful in the idyllic village of Lytell Stangdale, where life unravels, and hearts are broken. Full of heart-warming moments, this book with have you crying tears of joy, laughter and sadness.
Letters to My Daughter by Emma Hannigan
Throughout their lives, the three Brady sisters have always been closer to their nanny May than to their own mother, Martha a busy midwife. May always thought of them as her daughters so when she dies suddenly, the sisters are left devastated — especially when they learn that letters intended for them from May with final words of advice and love have gone missing.
But what words of advice could the sisters need?
Beatrice, owner of exclusive wedding boutiques, is busy and fulfilled. Rose has a beautiful daughter, a luxurious home and a thriving interiors company. And Jeannie, married to a wealthy plastic surgeon in L.A., wants for nothing.
Except that each of the sisters carries a secret …
As they gather for the reading of May’s will in Dublin, they must face some life-changing decisions. Will they ever learn the words of advice May had for them and discover who took the letters?
The Woman who Kept Everything by Jane Gilley (pre-ordered due 3 Dec 2018)
The Lady in the Van meets The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry in this uplifting, funny and moving debut novel about a 79-year-old hoarder who is convinced the world is against her.
79-year-old Gloria Frensham is a hoarder. She lives amongst piles of magazines, cardboard boxes and endless knick-knacks that are stacked into every room of her home, and teeter in piles along the landing and up the stairs.
She hasn’t left the house in years, but when a sudden smell of burning signifies real danger, she is forced to make a sudden departure and leave behind her beloved possessions.
Determined she’s not ready for a care home, Gloria sets out to discover what life still has to offer her. It’s time to navigate the outside world on her own, one step at a time, with just one very small suitcase in tow…
Heart-warming and poignant in equal measure, this is a story about the loneliness of life, the struggles of growing old, the power of kindness, and the bravery it takes to leave our comfort zones.
Now She’s Gone by Alison James
She took a mouthful of the sweet liquid and started to feel a pounding in her head. Arms went around her waist and she was half lifted and half pulled. The last thing she was aware of was her head hitting a step…
Sixteen-year-old Emily had everything to live for. A bright, beautiful teenager with a promising future ahead of her. But one dark night her life is cut short.
The police say it’s an accident. Her parents think she was murdered.
Detective Rachel Prince is called in to investigate the tragic incident. And she discovers a chilling link with the suspicious death of another student who stayed in the same old, sprawling guesthouse in the heart of Edinburgh two years before Emily.
Just as Rachel realises she’s on the hunt for a serial killer, a painful relationship from her past catches up with her. But will her secrets put someone she loves in danger? And can Rachel stop the murderer, before they strike again?
The Gathering Dark by James Oswald
The gripping new crime thriller in the highly acclaimed Inspector McLean series
A truck driver loses control in central Edinburgh, ploughing into a crowded bus stop and spilling his vehicle’s toxic load. The consequences are devastating.
DI Tony McLean witnesses the carnage. Taking control of the investigation, he soon realises there is much that is deeply amiss – and everyone involved seems to have something to hide.
But as McLean struggles to uncover who caused the tragedy, a greater crisis develops: the new Chief Superintendent’s son is missing, last seen in the area of the crash…
The Salt Path by Raynor Winn
Just days after Raynor learns that Moth, her husband of 32 years, is terminally ill, their home is taken away and they lose their livelihood. With nothing left and little time, they make the brave and impulsive decision to walk the 630 miles of the sea-swept South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall.
Carrying only the essentials for survival on their backs, they live wild in the ancient, weathered landscape of cliffs, sea and sky. Yet through every step, every encounter and every test along the way, their walk becomes a remarkable journey.
The Salt Path is an honest and life-affirming true story of coming to terms with grief and the healing power of the natural world. Ultimately, it is a portrayal of home, and how it can be lost, rebuilt and rediscovered in the most unexpected ways.
A Bicycle Made for Two by Mary Jayne Baker
In a lost corner of the Yorkshire Dales, Lana Donati runs a medieval theme restaurant with her brother. As a distraction to help them get over losing the father they loved dearly, and as a tribute to his passion for the beautiful area they live in, Lana hatches a plan to boost business for everyone by having the Grand Départ route pass through their village.
But this entails getting the small community to work together to convince the decision-makers that their beloved village is Tour material. Not an easy task when the people involved include Lana’s shy, unlucky-in-love brother Tom, the man-eating WI chair Yolanda, bickering spouses Gerry and Sue, arrogant celebrity Harper Brady, and Lana’s (attractive) arch-nemesis, former pro cyclist turned bike shop owner, Stewart McLean, whose offbeat ideas might just cost them everything.
Force of Nature by Jane Harper
Is Alice here? Did she make it? Is she safe? In the chaos, in the night, it was impossible to say which of the four had asked after Alice’s welfare. Later, when everything got worse, each would insist it had been them.
Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side.
The hike through the rugged landscape is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises.
Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case – and Alice knew secrets. About the company she worked for and the people she worked with.
Far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell Falk a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. And as he delves into the disappearance, it seems some dangers may run far deeper than anyone knew.
The Third Breath by Malcolm Hollingdrake
DCI Bennett is away on compassionate leave. After much soul-searching, he has decided to attend his father’s funeral.
DS Owen is left at the helm when the discovery of a body in a car in the multi-storey car park is reported. Initially, the Coroner rules out suspicious circumstances but when a second body is found with similar symptoms, Bennett is back in the fold. He suspects that the coincidences must be of some significance.
Soon Bennett’s team are hunting for a callous and devious killer who has covered his tracks effectively.
Will Bennett’s perseverance and attention to detail eventually crack this perplexing case?
Murder in Retreat by Noreen Wainwright
After settling in to married life in Ellbeck. Edith is happy when Henry goes on retreat to Staffordshire, knowing that spiritual renewal is an essential part of a busy vicar’s life. However, after meeting fellow priests, Henry soon realizes most have their own secrets and deep troubles to reflect upon. His sense of unease is vindicated when he discovers there is a murderer in St. Chad’s House, and he is reluctantly drawn into the mystery.
At home, Edith is plunged into a crisis when the son of her housekeeper, and friend, disappears. A figure from the past has been in contact with the boy, and both women fear for his safety. Adding to Edith’s distress, she worries about Henry and is unable to dismiss the deep concern she feels about him and what is happening at St. Chad’s.
Will Edith and Henry’s involvement in the troubles affect their relationship? Can they survive the seemingly endless struggles and find their way back to each other?
The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech
Be careful what you wish for…
Long ago, Andrew made a childhood wish, and kept it in a silver box. When it finally comes true, he wishes he hadn’t…
Long ago, Ben made a promise and he had a dream: to travel to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally makes it, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…
Ben and Andrew keep meeting in unexpected places, and the intense relationship that develops seems to be guided by fate. Or is it?
What if the very thing that draws them together is tainted by past secrets that threaten everything?
A dark, consuming drama that shifts from Zimbabwe to England, and then back into the past, The Lion Tamer Who Lost is also a devastatingly beautiful love story, with a tragic heart…
Death Parts Us by Alex Walters
Twenty years ago, Jackie Galloway was a senior cop with a bad reputation. Then he ended up on the wrong side of the wrong people, and his career was ruined. Sacked and with no pension, he ends up eking out his last days on Scotland’s Black Isle, his mind lost to dementia, supported only by his long-suffering wife, Bridie.
Then Galloway is found dead. The police assume the death to be accidental until Bridie Galloway reveals that her husband has been receiving threatening letters containing only the phrase: ‘NOT FORGOTTEN. NOT FORGIVEN.’
DI Alec McKay is struggling to come to terms with life without his estranged wife Chrissie, and is living in isolation on the Black Isle. As a junior officer, McKay had been allocated to Galloway’s team and has bad memories of the man and his methods. Now he finds himself investigating Galloway’s death.
But when suspicion falls on him and more police officers are murdered, the pressure is on for McKay to solve the case.
Why would the killer seek revenge twenty years after Galloway left the force?
As McKay fights to link the events of past and present, he realizes that time is rapidly running out…
Their Final Act by Alex Walters
Jimmy McGuire, a washed-up comic, is found dead on the streets of Inverness, his body garroted. Back in the 1990s, McGuire had been half of a promising double-act until his partner, Jack Dingwall, was convicted of rape.
Soon after, a second corpse is found in an abandoned industrial site on the edge of the Moray Firth. The body has been there for some days and has also been garroted. The victim turns out to be a former musician turned record producer, who had also been the subject of rape allegations.
Meanwhile, DI Alec McKay and DCI Helena Grant are still wrestling with the fallout from one of their recent cases following an acquittal.
As the body count rises, the police think they have the killer in their sights. But McKay is concerned that the evidence is too neat so when he realises there will be a final victim, he fears that time is running out …
The Last Goodbye by Caroline Finnerty
Sometimes the decisions we make can last a lifetime . . . and sometimes we cannot shake off the shackles of decisions made by others in the past.
Kate Flynn has spent her whole life running away. She reckons the best decision she ever made was to leave Ireland the day after she finished school. Having seldom returned since, she would be perfectly happy if she never had to go back there. She is happy in London where she runs a successful photography gallery with her best friend Nat, though their relationship is going through a rocky patch since Nat began an affair with a married man.
When Kate becomes pregnant and her partner Ben persuades her to make the trip home, she is forced to confront everything she left behind and memories of Eva, the mother she feels betrayed her. Kate finds it impossible to forgive Eva who chose to refuse cancer treatment while pregnant and died, leaving a young family motherless.
Do some wounds go too deep to ever heal? Must Eva’s Choice forever deny Kate real happiness?
Hetty’s Farmhouse Bakery by Cathy Bramley
Thirty-two-year-old Hetty Greengrass is the star around which the rest of her family orbits. Marriage, motherhood and helping Dan run Sunnybank Farm have certainly kept her hands full for the last twelve years. But when her daughter Poppy has to choose her inspiration for a school project and picks her aunt, not her mum, Hetty is left full of self-doubt.
Hetty’s always been generous with her time and until now, her biggest talent – baking deliciously moreish shortcrust pastry pies – has been limited to charity work and the village fete. But taking part in a competition run by Cumbria’s Finest to find the very best produce from the region might be just the thing to make her daughter proud . . . and reclaim something for herself.
Except that life isn’t as simple as producing the perfect pie. Changing the status quo isn’t easy – and with cracks appearing in her marriage and shocking secrets coming to light, Hetty must decide where her priorities really lie . . .
The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware
When Harriet Westaway receives an unexpected letter telling her she’s inherited a substantial bequest from her Cornish grandmother, it seems like the answer to her prayers. She owes money to a loan shark and the threats are getting increasingly aggressive: she needs to get her hands on some cash fast.
There’s just one problem – Hal’s real grandparents died more than twenty years ago. The letter has been sent to the wrong person. But Hal knows that the cold-reading techniques she’s honed as a seaside fortune teller could help her con her way to getting the money. If anyone has the skills to turn up at a stranger’s funeral and claim a bequest they’re not entitled to, it’s her.
Hal makes a choice that will change her life for ever. But once she embarks on her deception, there is no going back. She must keep going or risk losing everything, even her life…
Greatest Hits by Laura Barnett
If you could choose just sixteen moments to define your entire life, what would they be?
Cass Wheeler has seen it all – from the searing heights of success, to earth-shattering moments of despair. She has known passion, envy, pride, fear, and love. She has been a daughter, a mother, a singer, a lover.
A musician born in 1950, Cass is now taking one day to select the sixteen songs in her repertoire that have meant the most to her. And behind each song lies a story – from the day her mother abandoned her, to her passionate first love, to the moment she lost everything. The dreams, the failures, the second chances. But what made her disappear so suddenly from her public life and, most importantly, can she find her way back?
OK so even I’m beginning to see that this book hauling has got out of hand, especially when you add in my Book Choice and newly signed up Reading in Heels subscriptions. So next month I’m attempting to reign it back, if it’s not on my official ‘Wanted’ list, or an exceptional deal (yes, that old get out clause) then it’s not being bought. I’m as curious as you to see how that’s going to go. Happy Reading!!