Even the fact that this post reflects 2 weeks purchases doesn’t mitigate the reality that I’ve been even more acquisitive than usual. In my defence I cite the Waterstone’s sale which I discovered while away in Glasgow and Orenda for having a not to be ignored offer – which priced all their ebooks at 99p each. So grab a cup of tea/coffee and sit back this might take a while.
Review Copies approved via NetGalley
Everything You Do is Wrong by Amanda Coe ( due for publication 19th Oct)
‘Do You Know This Girl?’
Harmony’s teenage craving for drama is answered when a body is discovered by her aunt Mel on Evensand beach. But the naked, lifeless young woman turns out – problematically – to be alive. Unable to speak or remember where she came from, the woman is named Storm by her nurses.
Surrounded by doctors, psychiatrists and policemen, Storm remains provocatively silent. Harmony is desperate to fill in the gaps in Storm’s story, while the responsibility Mel feels for the woman she rescued begins to skew the course of her own settled life. Their efforts to solve the mystery clash with the efforts of rookie constable Mason, assigned to the case and determined to help this damsel he feels to be very much in distress.
Will any of them be able to find out who Storm really is? And what if the distress belongs to everyone but her?
Let the Dead Speak by Jane Casey (due 9th March)
A murder without a body
Eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home one day to find the house covered in blood and Kate, her mother, gone. There may not be a body, but everything else points to murder.
A girl too scared to talk
Maeve Kerrigan is young, ambitious and determined to prove she’s up to her new role as detective sergeant. She suspects Chloe is holding something back, but best friend Bethany Norris won’t let Maeve get close. What exactly is Bethany protecting Chloe from?
A detective with everything to prove
As the team dig deeper into the residents of Valerian Road, no one is above suspicion. All Maeve needs is one person to talk, but that’s not going to happen. Because even in a case of murder, some secrets are too terrible to share…
We All Begin as Strangers by Harriet Cummings
It’s 1984, and summer is scorching the ordinary English village of Heathcote.
What’s more, a mysterious figure is slipping into homes through back doors and open windows. Dubbed ‘the Fox’, he knows everything about everyone – leaving curious objects in their homes, or taking things from them.
When beloved Anna goes missing, the whole community believes the Fox is responsible.
But as the residents scramble to solve the mystery of Anna’s disappearance, little do they know it’s their darkest secrets the Fox is really after…
Inspired by a real 80s mystery, and with pitch-perfect characters, WE ALL BEGIN AS STRANGERS is a beautiful debut novel you’ll want to recommend to everyone.
The End of the Day by Claire North (due 6th April)
Charlie meets everyone – but only once.
You might meet him in a hospital, in a warzone, or at the scene of traffic accident.
Then again, you might meet him at the North Pole – he gets everywhere, our Charlie.
Would you shake him by the hand, take the gift he offers, or would you pay no attention to the words he says?
Sometimes he is sent as a courtesy, sometimes as a warning. He never knows which.
The End of the Day is the stunning new story from Richard and Judy Book Club author Claire North: the voice behind the word-of-mouth bestseller The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August.
Ebook Purchases – price at time of posting
One Dark Lie by Clare Chase (99p)
The truth can hurt, and sometimes it leads to murder …
After becoming embroiled in a murder investigation, Nate Bastable and Ruby Fawcett have decided to opt for the quiet life. But crime has a habit of following them around.
When her work dries up, Ruby finds herself accepting a job researching and writing about Diana Patrick-John, a colourful and enigmatic Cambridge academic. Simple enough. But then there’s the small fact that Diana was found dead in suspicious circumstances in her home – the very place where Ruby has now been invited to stay.
As she begins to uncover Diana’s secret life, Ruby’s sleuthing instinct kicks in, leaving her open to danger and retribution. But can she rely on Nate to support her? Especially when his behaviour has become increasingly distant and strange, almost as though he had something to hide …
The Flower Arrangement by Ella Griffin (99p)
Every bouquet tells a story…
And every story begins at Blossom & Grow, a tiny jewel-like flower shop in the heart of Dublin. Here, among the buckets of fragrant blooms, beneath the flickering candles and lanterns, florist Lara works her magic, translating feelings into flower arrangements, changing hearts and lives. Whether its bridal posies, anniversary bouquets or surprise deliveries from secret admirers, Lara arranges the flowers for all manner of life-changing moments.
No stranger to heartbreak herself, Lara knows flowers say more than words ever can. But can the flowers that heal the customers work their magic on Lara?
Lies by T M Logan (98p)
When Joe Lynch stumbles across his wife driving into a hotel car park while she’s supposed to be at work, he’s intrigued enough to follow her in.
And when he witnesses her in an angry altercation with family friend Ben, he knows he ought to intervene.
But just as the confrontation between the two men turns violent, and Ben is knocked unconscious, Joe’s young son has an asthma attack – and Joe must flee in order to help him.
When he returns, desperate to make sure Ben is OK, Joe is horrified to find that Ben has disappeared.
And that’s when Joe receives the first message . . .
The Little Clock House on the Green by Eve Devon (£2.99)
Welcome to Whispers Wood, a cosy little village in the heart of the English countryside, where everybody knows everybody and rumours are spread thicker than jam on a scone…
When a rival village is awarded Best in Bloom, the residents of Whispers Wood are determined to regain their former glory – and with Old Man Isaac finally selling the clock house on the village green, with two potential buyers, operation ‘Summer Fete’ is on!
For Kate Somersby, the very bricks that make up the clock house hold precious memories of her childhood. Now she’s finally returned home after years of running away, she’s here to make Isaac an offer and ensure her and her beloved sister’s dreams come true. Only entrepreneur Daniel Westlake is standing in her way.
To prove they have the village’s interests at heart and in turn become the proud new owner of the clock house, Kate and Daniel must compete to raise funds for the Whispers Wood Summer Fete.
Seal Skin by Su Bristow (£4.31)
What happens when magic collides with reality? Donald is a young fisherman, eking out a lonely living on the west coast of Scotland. One night he witnesses something miraculous … and makes a terrible mistake. His action changes lives – not only his own, but those of his family and the entire tightly knit community in which they live. Can he ever atone for the wrong he has done, and can love grow when its foundation is violence? Based on the legend of the selkies – seals who can transform into people – Sealskin is a magical story, evoking the harsh beauty of the landscape, the resilience of its people, both human and animal, and the triumph of hope over fear and prejudice. With exquisite grace, Exeter Novel Prize-winner Su Bristow transports us to a different world, subtly and beautifully exploring what it means to be an outsider, and our innate capacity for forgiveness and acceptance. Rich with myth and magic, Sealskin is, nonetheless, a very human story, as relevant to our world as to the timeless place in which it is set. And it is, quite simply, unforgettable. For fans of Angela Carter, Eowyn Ivey, Alice Hoffmann and Geraldine Brooks.
A Stranger’s House by Clare Chase (99p)
What if you were powerless to protect the person you cared about most?
When Ruby finds out that her partner has done the unforgivable, she has no option but to move out of their home. With nowhere else to go, a job house-sitting in Cambridge seems like the perfect solution.
But it’s soon clear the absent owner hurts everyone he gets close to, and Ruby’s faced with the fallout. As violent repercussions unfold, her instinct is to investigate: it’s a matter of self-preservation. And besides, she’s curious…
But Ruby’s new boss, Nate Bastable, has his eye on her and seems determined to put a stop to her sleuthing. Is he simply worried for the welfare of a member of staff, or is there something altogether more complicated – and potentially dangerous – at play?
One Night at the Jacaranda by Carol Cooper (£1.99 was Free)
One man dying of cancer. One struggling journalist. A group of single Londoners. One night that changes everything…
The trouble with speed dating is that three minutes can last a lifetime, and ever since he was diagnosed, Sanjay doesn’t have a lifetime to waste.
For one booze and hope-fuelled night, the lives of a group of 30-somethings criss-cross. As well as Sanjay, lawyer Laure, divorced doctor Geoff, beleaguered mother-of-four Karen and traumatised ex-con Dan all face each other across the Jacaranda’s tables in their quest for love, solace or amazing sex.
Undercover journalist Harriet is after a by-line, not a boyfriend. She’s a struggling freelance with a live-in lover, who unexpectedly has to choose between the comfortable life she knows and a bumpy road that could lead to happiness.
As they each discover in turn, relationships aren’t just about finding someone special. They’re about finding yourself.
The Swiss Legacy by Anne Armstrong Thompson (99p was Free)
Following a business trip in London, Carolyn and David Bruce are looking forward to a short vacation before returning to New York.
But their plans are shattered when David is suddenly run over and killed by an out-of-control taxi.
Now a widow, Carolyn struggles to come to terms with her husband’s unexpected death. And as the police investigation unfolds, Carolyn begins to suspect that David’s death may not have been an accident after all…
What’s more, David seems to have hidden the truth of his business dealings from his wife.
Soon, Carolyn is caught up in a murky web of deceit and greed which could cost her her own life.
Was David’s death truly an accident? Or will Carolyn be the next victim of a twisted tale of money and murder?
Someone Lying, Someone Dying by John Burke (99p was Free)
When the remains of a body are found in the cellar of an abandoned house, the quiet community of Lurgate finds itself in a state of shock…
The body is identified as that of Walter Blythe, a local businessman who disappeared in 1913.
At the same time as Walter’s disappearance, a large sum of money was also taken from the business he co-owned with his partner, Victor Johnson.
Now, decades later, Victor Johnson posthumously becomes the prime suspect in Walter’s murder.
The news comes as a shock to Victor’s granddaughter, Brigid, who is planning her wedding with her fiancé Martin. But with family secrets coming to light, will the wedding still go ahead?
And when Walter Blythe’s long-lost grandson, Peter, is found dead in town shortly after his arrival, it appears that a ruthless killer is once again on the loose.
Who will be the next victim? And what really happened to Walter Blythe?
Watch Me by Angela Clarke (99p)
YOU HAVE SIX SECONDS TO READ THIS MESSAGE…
The body of a 15-year-old is found hours after she sends a desperate message to her friends. It looks like suicide, until a second girl disappears.
This time, the message is sent directly to the Metropolitan Police – and an officer’s younger sister is missing.
DS Nasreen Cudmore and journalist Freddie Venton will stop at nothing to find her. But whoever’s behind the notes is playing a deadly game of hide and seek – and the clock is ticking.
YOU HAVE 24 HOURS TO SAVE THE GIRL’S LIFE.
MAKE THEM COUNT.
The Broken Ones by Sarah A Denzil (£1.99 was Free)
A shadow follows Sophie.
Her instinct tells her that it’s someone she knows. But who? The man she met internet dating? The nurse caring for her ill mother? Or is her mother faking her illness?
The only thing she knows is that she can’t trust anyone.
Sophie must delve into a dark history to reveal her stalker. But there are some stories that should never be told…
My Grape Wedding by Laura Bradbury (£2.25 was Free)
My Grape Wedding takes fans of Laura Bradbury’s ‘Grape’ series – described by readers as a love child between Peter Mayle’s “A Year in Provence” and Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild” – back to the enchanting world of Burgundy five years after Franck and Laura meet on a student exchange. After a spontaneous proposal in Kathmandu, the bride-to-be struggles with balancing the academic demands of an Oxford law student in between lessons on how to be a proper Catholic and fittings with the Queen of England’s corset maker.
Back in Burgundy, Laura’s anxiety grows as wedding plans fall apart. As guests arrive, the rain clouds move in, family wine tastings turn into tournaments of survival of the fittest, and a bombshell from the priest leaves the couple looking for divine intervention. Laura believes she and Franck belong together, but how will they survive this tumultuous journey to the altar?
Journey to the Centre of Myself by Andie M Long (£3.09 was Free)
Two women. Two different paths in life.
Amber’s husband is pressuring her to have a baby. Amber wants to have fun. She gives in to her husband, only to find that all is not as it seems.
Karen’s marriage is at its end, rocked by grief and lies. Newly redundant, she leaves on a flight to Berlin, to spend time alone and consider her future.
Amber is the temp who took over Karen’s job. But that’s not all the two women have in common. One woman’s drunken kiss in a nightclub will lead to their paths crossing once again.
Life is about to reveal new journeys for them both.
The Congregation by A J Griffiths-Jones (£2.99 was Free)
A bustling mining town in 1970s England awaits the arrival of their new vicar. People are not sure what to expect as the rather aloof Reverend Matthews descends upon his unfamiliar parish, but nevertheless he is welcomed with open arms and gathered into the flock.
However, on discovering a journal left by his predecessor, the clergyman soon begins to wonder what secrets lie behind the seemingly innocent lives of his congregation. The unexpected arrival of the Bishop causes the vicar to question his own past and a cloud descends upon his religious beliefs, causing chaos to both himself and the townsfolk residing just a stone’s throw away.
Sunshine Spirit by Barbara Willis (Free)
As Jane steps from the rubble of her West End home she meets Will; he offers fun, laughter and love in abundance. But will his kindness lead to a happily ever after, or draw Jane into secrecy and danger?
With the Blitz of London upon them, Will teaches Jane to live for the moment and throw caution aside. He introduces her to his surrogate family, the joys of the theatre and the open road. In turn, Jane acquaints him with her eclectic mix of girlfriends and life at the Grandchester Hotel.
But wartime London is a dangerous place, and they soon find themselves in the middle of deception, desperation and acts of murder. Amid the loss and discovery, a promise is made to wait for a loved one’s return.
Random by Craig Robertson (Free)
Glasgow is being terrorised by a serial killer the media have nicknamed The Cutter. The murders have left the police baffled. There seems to be neither rhyme nor reason behind the killings; no kind of pattern or motive; an entirely different method of murder each time, and nothing that connects the victims except for the fact that the little fingers of their right hands have been severed.
If DS Rachel Narey could only work out the key to the seemingly random murders, how and why the killer selects his victims, she would be well on her way to catching him. But as the police, the press and a threatening figure from Glasgow’s underworld begin to close in on The Cutter, his carefully-laid plans threaten to unravel – with horrifying consequences.
The Murder Game by Julie Apple (Free)
Ten years working as a prosecutor have left Meredith Delay jaded and unsure of what she wants out of life. She’s good at her job, but it haunts her. Her boyfriend wants her to commit, but she keeps him at arm’s length. Then Meredith is assigned to a high-profile prosecution involving the violent murder of a fallen hockey star. At first, it appears to be just another case to work. But when her old friend Julian is accused of the murder, it takes on a whole new dimension.
Meredith, Julian, Jonathan, and Lily were a tight-knit group in law school. But now, Jonathan’s defending Julian, and Lily’s loyalties aren’t clear. And when Julian invokes a rare—and risky—defence, Meredith is forced to confront their past.
Absolution by Amanda Dick (Free)
All it takes is a moment. The flash of oncoming headlights and a split-second decision tears your world apart.
Jack McKenna fell in love with Ally Connor the first time he saw her. All through high school and beyond, it was the two of them against the world even though level-headed, pragmatic Jack and artistic, impulsive Ally couldn’t have been more different. Their future was mapped out until one night, driving home from a concert with their best friend, their world came crashing down.
Consumed by guilt, Jack walks away from everything and everyone. What follows is four years of living in the shadows, sliding further and further into the darkness until he finds himself doing things he never thought he was capable of.
And then a phone call turns his world upside down a second time. Hours later, he’s heading back to the place where the nightmares began. The homecoming, a funeral and the journey of self-discovery will test the limits of his endurance, risking his very soul in the process. Does he even deserve a second chance?
The Defenceless by Kati Hiekkapelto (£4.74 was 99p)
When an old man is found dead on the road – seemingly run over by a Hungarian au pair – police investigator Anna Fekete is certain that there is more to the incident than meets the eye. As she begins to unravel an increasingly complex case, she’s led on a deadly trail where illegal immigration, drugs and, ultimately, murder threaten not only her beliefs, but her life. Anna’s partner Esko is entrenched in a separate but equally dangerous investigation into the activities of an immigrant gang, where deportation orders and raids cause increasing tension and result in desperate measures by gang members – and the police themselves. Then a bloody knife is found in the snow, and the two cases come together in ways that no one could have predicted. As pressure mounts, it becomes clear that having the law on their side may not be enough for Anna and Esko. Chilling, disturbing and terrifyingly believable.
Cursed by Thomas Enger (£4.31 was 99p)
What secret would you kill to protect? When Hedda Hellberg fails to return from a retreat in Italy, where she has been grieving for her recently dead father, her husband discovers that his wife’s life is tangled in mystery. Hedda never left Oslo, the retreat has no record of her and, what’s more, she appears to be connected to the death of an old man, gunned down on the first day of the hunting season in the depths of the Swedish forests. Henning Juul becomes involved in the case when his ex-wife joins in the search for the missing woman, and the estranged pair find themselves enmeshed both in the murky secrets of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families, and in the painful truths surrounding the death of their own son. With the loss of his son to deal with, as well as threats to his own life and to that of his ex-wife, Juul is prepared to risk everything to uncover a sinister maze of secrets that ultimately leads to the dark heart of European history.
The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn (£4.31 was 99p)
Two people in exile. Two secrets. As the past tightens its grip, there may be no escape… TV presenter Allis Hagtorn leaves her partner and her job to take voluntary exile in a remote house on an isolated fjord. But her new job as housekeeper and gardener is not all that it seems, and her silent, surly employer, 44-year-old Sigurd Bagge, is not the old man she expected. As they await the return of his wife from her travels, their silent, uneasy encounters develop into a chilling, obsessive relationship, and it becomes clear that atonement for past sins may not be enough… Haunting, consuming and powerful, The Bird Tribunal is a taut, exquisitely written psychological thriller that builds to a shocking, dramatic crescendo that will leave you breathless.
Rupture by Ragnar Jonasson (£4.31 was 99p)
1955. Two young couples move to the uninhabited, isolated fjord of Hedinsfjörður. Their stay ends abruptly when one of the women meets her death in mysterious circumstances. The case is never solved. Fifty years later an old photograph comes to light, and it becomes clear that the couples may not have been alone on the fjord after all…
In nearby Siglufjörður, young policeman Ari Thór tries to piece together what really happened that fateful night, in a town where no one wants to know, where secrets are a way of life. He’s assisted by Ísrún, a news reporter in Reykjavik, who is investigating an increasingly chilling case of her own. Things take a sinister turn when a child goes missing in broad daylight. With a stalker on the loose, and the town of Siglufjörður in quarantine, the past might just come back to haunt them.
Tree Book Purchases
The Last Days of the National Costume by Anne Kennedy (Waterstones sale)
You’d think that mending clothes would be an uneventful, uncomplicated occupation. No drama, no unnecessary explanations, no personal involvement. But people love to talk, and as they make their excuses to GoGo Sligo, of Megan Sligo Mending and Alterations, they reveal the holes in their stories as well. It doesn’t take long for GoGo to get to the truth behind the rips and tears they’ve brought her to fix.
As GoGo listens and sews, she realises she is also helping her clients cheat and lie to their husbands and wives. She’s covering their tracks so they won’t be found out.
A five-week blackout brings the city to its knees, and a drama to her doorstep. A lover, a wife, and finally the cheating husband all come to claim a vintage Irish costume that GoGo’s been mending. She doesn’t want to like the guilty husband, but can’t resist being drawn into the enticing web of his deceit, and then into his story of heartbreak and death on the streets of Belfast.
To keep him coming back to the blacked-out house and to prolong the telling of his family’s story, GoGo pretends the costume isn’t finished. As she makes him return to her, day after day, it becomes clear that another kind of spell is being woven, and GoGo must face the truth about herself and her own life and marriage.
Hippy Dinners by Abbie Ross (Waterstones sale)
In 1972 Abbie Ross’s cosmopolitan parents move the family from London to rural North Wales, exchanging a town house in Islington for a remote farmhouse on a hill.
Abbie’s Liverpudlian grandparents – dedicated followers of Liberace, sleek in scented mohair and patent leather – are sure they’ve lost their minds. For Abbie, though, the only cloud on the horizon is the nearby hippy commune and its inhabitants. There are worrying signs that this is the sort of ‘better life’ that her parents have in mind.
Brilliantly evoking a particular time and place, Abbie’s memoir re-creates a world of dens and pineapple chunks, of John Craven’s Newsround and fishing for sticklebacks – and the joy but also the burning powerlessness of being a child. Disgusted by her father’s ‘yogic flying’ and her mother’s taste for brown bread and billowing cheesecloth (with no bra), Abbie is desperate not to be different. Far better, she thinks, to fit in with shouting, pathologically nosy Sara across the fields,or stay close to Philip next door – paralysingly shy and with a preference for orange food and no trousers (‘nice to have a bit of air’) …
Rich with detail that reveals a whole world, Hippy Dinners is very funny and full of heart. It is also a delicate and astute portrait of the brutal realities of ‘a simple life’.
A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie (Waterstones sale)
Summer, 1914. Young Englishwoman Vivian Rose Spencer is in an ancient land, about to discover the Temple of Zeus, the call of adventure, and love. Thousands of miles away a twenty-year-old Pathan, Qayyum Gul, is learning about brotherhood and loyalty in the British Indian army. Summer, 1915. Viv has been separated from the man she loves; Qayyum has lost an eye at Ypres. They meet on a train to Peshawar, unaware that a connection is about to be forged between their lives Â? one that will reveal itself fifteen years later when anti-colonial resistance, an ancient artefact and a mysterious woman will bring them together again.
Something to Hide by Deborah Moggach (Waterstones sale)
‘Nobody in the world knows our secret … that I’ve ruined Bev’s life, and she’s ruined mine.’
Petra’s love life is a bit of a car-crash, even in her sixties. But then she falls for Jeremy, an old chum, visiting from abroad. The catch? Jeremy is her best friend’s husband.
And just as Petra is beginning to relax guiltily into her happy ever after, she finds herself catapulted to West Africa, and to Bev, her best friend who she’s been betraying so spectacularly.
It turns out that no matter where you are in the world, everyone has something to hide. Can Bev – can anyone – be trusted?
Wish You Were Here by Victoria Connelly (Charity shop)
Sun, sea and secrets…
A week on the sunny Greek island of Kethos is just what Alice Archer needs, even if she has to put up with her difficult sister. Stella’s tantrums and diva-like demands are a fair price to pay for crystal-clear waters, blue skies and white clifftop villas.
When Alice meets Milo, a handsome gardener at the Villa Argenti, for the first time she suddenly feels beautiful, alluring and confident. But is it just holiday magic or will the irresistible pull between Alice and Milo survive against all odds?
Excellent Women by Barbara Pym (Charity shop)
Mildred Lathbury is one of those ‘excellent women’ who is often taken for granted. She is a godsend, ‘capable of dealing with most of the stock situations of life – birth, marriage, death, the successful jumble sales, the garden fete spoilt by bad weather’. As such, she often gets herself embroiled in other people’s lives – especially those of her glamorous new neighbours, the Napiers, whose marriage seems to be on the rocks. One cannot take sides in these matters, though it is tricky, especially as Mildred, teetering on the edge of spinsterhood, has a soft spot for dashing young Rockingham Napier. This is Barbara Pym’s world at its funniest and most touching.
We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter – many thanks to Alison Busby for this great prize win.
From the jazz clubs of Paris and Kraków’s most brutal prison, to the ports of Northern Africa and the farthest reaches of the Siberian gulag, We Were the Lucky Ones expresses how in the darkest of times the human spirit can find a way to survive, and even triumph.
If you’re still with me at this stage I hope you found something to tempt you as well – Happy Reading x